TOP-Solargewinner nach der großen Krise

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09.08.12 10:16
1

750 Postings, 3289 Tage trenncostaufwärtstrend

 Wieso ist denn hier bitte an einen Aufwärtstrend nicht zu denken. Okay, für einen Trade vielleicht ungeeignet. Aber langfristig hat PS gutes Potential denke ich. Das mit Bulgarien ist schade aber war zu erwarten. Das sie in der Restrukturierung und nach Personalabbau jetzt keine überraschenden Gewinne gemacht haben auch. Wichtig ist der starke Anstieg des Auslandsgeschäftes denke ich. Das ist genau die richtige Ausrichtung. Und ich bin überzeugt das das Solargeschäft in naher Zukunft richtig interessant wird. Kleinere und mittlere deutsche Projektierer mit flexiblem Geschäftsmodell sind daher meines Erachtens nach die zukunftigen Gewinner. Denn auch wenn man lieber vergleichbares Material günstiger aus China bezieht, ist das Vertrauen in deutsche Ingenieure und Planer nach wie vor groß. Für landfristige Anleger, die von einem Aufwärtstrend nach dieser Konsolidierungsphase profitieren wollen, sollte eine Firma wie PS also äußerst interessant sein. Hier gibt es auch weniger Unwägbarkeiten als bei Herstellern denke ich. Also Kopf hoch. Ich bin hier auch zu einem höheren Kurs rein und hätte mir auch schnellere Gewinne gewünscht. Aber ich bin mir recht sicher, das sich das Ganze bis Mitte 2013 bestens auszahlen sollte.

 

09.08.12 10:33

51 Postings, 4109 Tage vorstadtgoereAusblick

Die Zahlen sind erwartungsgemäß schlecht, aber was mir fehlt ist ein die Phanatasie anregender Ausblick. PS wird auf Dauer insbesondere vor dem Hintergrund einer zunehmenden Auslandstätigkeit m.M. nicht alleine überleben. Sucht man größere Verbündete, um langfristig zu überleben? Sind nicht beispielsweise Bosch (Bulgarien) oder First Solar große potente Partner, die ihre Solarsparte (Bosch) bzw. ihre Moduleabsatz mit PS stärken würden?  

09.08.12 10:34

2127 Postings, 4091 Tage ingopeDanke für's aufbauen ! ;-)

Die letzten Wochen und nun auch noch die recht schlechten News tragen zu einer doch recht negativer Einstellung bei.
Man kann nur hoffen, dass diese ganzen Umstrukturierungen bei denen fruchtet.
Noch mehr schlechte News kann niemand mehr gebrauchen. Es kommen ja eh kaum News über den Ticker. Schlechte Öffentlichkeitsarbeit.
Die Aktie wird für Investoren dann immer uninteressanter. Man sieht es ja auch am Volumen. So gut wie kein Interesse vorhanden - es wird nur verkauft.  

09.08.12 10:38

750 Postings, 3289 Tage trenncost16:00 Uhr

 Mal sehen was sie heute nachmittag zu erzählen haben. Was die Öffentlichkeitsarbeit angeht gebe ich jedoch vollkommen recht. Selbst Leute die derzeit nach so einer Aktie suchen würden, hätten Probleme überhaupt auf die Firma aufmerksam zu werden.

 

 

09.08.12 13:14

2127 Postings, 4091 Tage ingope... es kann in allen Bereichen

bei Phönix nur besser werden.  

09.08.12 19:45
3

1539 Postings, 3609 Tage watchandlearnGedanken zu First Solar

Also ich den Thread vor zwei Monaten eröffnet habe, hätte ich nicht gedacht, dass FS im Vergleich zu Phönix und vor allem zu Trina so eine deutliche Outperformance hinlegt.
Zumal ja damals die MK schon bei 1 MRD $ lag.

Aber letztendlich hat es FS so ziemlich als einzige Solarfirma geschafft, Gewinne im Q2 zu erzielen und sogar die Prognose zum Jahresende nun schon zweimal erhöht. Der Buchwert der Firma liegt bei gut 40 USD. Zum Jahresende sicherlich höher.

Der aktuelle Kursanstieg passt zum einen diese absolute Unterbewertung an, wird zum anderen aber sicherlich auch von den Shorteindeckungen getrieben. Ein Ende sehe ich hier in nächster Zeit jedenfalls noch nicht. Kurzfristig könnten hier 30 Euro drin sein.

Aufgrund der weltweiten Projektpipeline, dem technischen KnowHow sowie der weiterhin guten Profitabilität ist FS für mich aber auch ein absoluter Übernahmekandidat von einem BigPlayer, z.B. General Electric oder Siemens, welche sich im Solargeschäft etablieren wollen. Wenn nicht jetzt, wann dann kann man FS übernehmen??

Nur wo wäre ein gerechter Übernahmepreis? Warum sollten Aktionäre ihre Aktien unter oder zum Buchpreis hergeben. Aufgrund des Zukunftsmarkt Solar sollte hier schon noch ein Aufpreis von mindestens 50% fällig sein. Von daher würde ich mittelfristig einen möglichen Übernahmepreis bei ca. 70 USD pro Aktie sehen.  

09.08.12 20:23
1

1539 Postings, 3609 Tage watchandlearnMajor Holders First Solar

So wie es aussieht, sind für die Shorties gar keine Stücke mehr frei zum Eindecken...

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/mh?s=FSLR+Major+Holders

Major Holders
Breakdown
% of Shares Held by All Insider and 5% Owners: 31%
% of Shares Held by Institutional & Mutual Fund Owners: 72%
% of Float Held by Institutional & Mutual Fund Owners: 104%
Number of Institutions Holding Shares: 323

Major Direct Holders (Forms 3 & 4)
    Holder    Shares  Reported§
JCL HOLDINGS LLC 0 Mar 25, 2012
JOHN T. WALTON RESIDUARY TRUST N/A Mar 25, 2012
JCL FSLR HOLDINGS, LLC 24,957,907 Mar 25, 2012
ESTATE OF JOHN T. WALTON 0 Mar 25, 2012
JTW TRUST NO. 1 UAD 9/19/02 1,600,000 Mar 3, 2011  

10.08.12 09:40

1539 Postings, 3609 Tage watchandlearnPräsentation Phönix Solar

Hier die Folien zum Conference Call vom 09. August 2012.

http://www.phoenixsolar-group.com/dms/documents/...0Results_final.pdf  

10.08.12 12:51

2127 Postings, 4091 Tage ingopeKein Volumen ...kein Interesse

na ja, dass war's dann mal mit dieser Aktie.
Große Enttäuschung macht sich breit ! ;-(  

12.08.12 11:00

24654 Postings, 7288 Tage Tony Fordnoch ein wenig Geduld...

Die Bodenbildung hat noch nicht stattgefunden, auch wenn sich der Abwärtstrend deutlich verlangsamt hat. Ich würde daher erst mal noch abwarten und vermutlich im Jahre 2013 günstig zugreifen, je nachdem welche Anbieter dann noch auf dem Markt sind.

Zudem denke ich, werden die Großen wie GE, Siemens & Co. wiedermal die Gunst der Stunde nutzen und Solarunternehmen einsacken. Für den Anleger ist das einfach nur der Worst Case, da man die Aufwärtsbewegung nicht angemessen partizipieren kann und am Ende GE und Siemens die Lohrbeeren ernten, wenn das Geschäft wieder richtig in Fahrt kommt.
Ähnlich lief es letztendlich in der Biotechnologiebranche, welche 2000rum für paar Jahre einen großen Boom erlebte, dann angesichts der Krise einbrach und als dann die Produkte entwickelt waren, die Kurse tief standen, kauften BioGen, AmGen, Roche & Co. Schritt für Schritt eine Bude nach der Anderen zu billigem Preis auf und der Anleger konnte von dem eigentlichen großen Trend nicht wirklich profitieren. Im Gegenteil die Altaktionäre, welche evt. sogar zu Beginn der Emmision dabei waren, gingen mit Verlusten raus, obwohl sie hätten gute Gewinne erzielen können, hätte es den Zusammenschluss nicht gegeben.

Naja und angesichts der aktuellen Krise (nicht nur im Solarbereich) könnten wiedermal die Geier namens GE, Siemens oder auch eine BP aktiv werden und sich zu lasten vor allem kleinerer Aktionäre bereichern.
Sowas nennt man Umverteilung erster Klasse, gegen die man sich als einzelner Kleinanleger kaum erwehren kann ;-)

Daher ist für mich die Börse mittlerweile ziemlich uninteressant geworden.
Dennoch werde ich Solarworld & Co. weiter beobachten und vielleicht dann in Folge einer Bodenbildung mal ein paar wenige EURO anlegen.
Mein Liebling ist und bleibt nach wie vor Solarworld als überzeugter Patriot ;-)  

12.08.12 13:52

2127 Postings, 4091 Tage ingopeNa Du hast gut reden !

Abwarten und 2013 zugreifen !? Boden noch nicht erreicht ? Viel tiefer kann man es ja kaum noch ertragen.
Viele sind seit 1,60 dabei und haben seitdem ein tief rotes Depot.
Hier stellt sich wirklich die Frage ob sich diese Firma noch fängt oder nicht und man mit Verlust verkaufen sollte bevor alles weg ist.
Das Schönreden haben seit Wochen viele getan - nichts hat's geholfen.
Ich persönlich habe nur noch wenig Hoffnung. Die extrem schlechte Informationspolitik von diesem Laden macht sein Übriges dazu.
;-((  

12.08.12 14:28
1

24654 Postings, 7288 Tage Tony Ford@ingope...

Ich war bis Anfang 2011 noch zuversichtlich, mich dann aber Mitte März 2011 von meinen letzten Aktien in Solar- und Ökoaktien getrennt.

http://www.ariva.de/forum/...y-kann-beginnen-411252?page=5#jumppos134

seither sehe ich keine Kaufsignale und habe mich damals zum Glück nicht von den Kurserholungen Ende März zum Wiedereinstieg überzeugen lassen.

http://www.ariva.de/forum/...y-kann-beginnen-411252?page=5#jumppos136
http://www.ariva.de/forum/...y-kann-beginnen-411252?page=5#jumppos146

Tja und nun ist eigentlich schon 2012 in dem Jahr ich mir einen Wiedereinstieg erhofft hatte, der sich aber wohl bis ins Jahr 2013 verschieben könnte.

Klar die Bewertung von Solarworld & Co. ist mittlerweile ein Witz und spiegelt die eigentlich vorhandenen Potenziale nicht annähernd wieder.
Andererseits interessiert Anleger die Bewertung im Regelfall nicht, wenn das konjunkturelle (evt. bevorstehende Weltwirtschaftskrise, Banken- und Staatspleiten) sowie wirtschaftspolitische (Strafzölle, Handelskriege, dominierende Subventionen,...) Differenzial größer als die unternehmensabhängige Ergebnisentwicklung.
Oder etwas einfacher ausgdrückt, man kann Heute ein Solarunternehmen wunderbar managen und wird trotzdem schlechte Ergebnisse abliefern, weil die Umwelteinflüsse momentan einfach zu groß sind.

Daher warte ich ab, bis sich die Unwetter verziehen und wieder stabileres Wetter aufzieht, d.h. abwarten bis die Krise ihren Lauf nimmt und es kracht, der Handels- sowie Preiskrieg seine Opfer gefordert hat und am Ende vielleicht noch eine handvoll Solarunternehmen weltweit überleben.
Ob Solarworld hier mit dabei sein wird, kann man Heute meiner Meinung nach nicht abschätzen, daher ist wohl auch der Kurs so tief und ein Ende des Kursverfalls und der tiefen Kurse nicht in Sicht.
Natürlich wird es solche Aufäumbewegungen wie bei First Solar immer wieder mal geben. Die werden wohl aber eher noch zum weiteren Exit genutzt werden.

12.08.12 22:18
1

1539 Postings, 3609 Tage watchandlearnÜbernahmen

Das mit den Übernahmen wird definitiv so kommen. Von daher ist es doch gut, wenn man sich jetzt schon eindeckt, wo niemand etwas von Solar hält. Kaufen wenn die Kanonen donnern.

Und dann muss man sich fragen, welche Firmen für eine Übernahme in Frage kommen. Und das sind die Firmen, die einen guten Ruf haben und solide wirtschaften. Desweiteren wird eine Übernahme mit Sicherheit nicht unter Buchkurs stattfinden. Von daher ist es auch gut, sich bei einem Kurs, welcher deutlich unter Buchkurs liegt, einzudecken.  

13.08.12 05:24

24654 Postings, 7288 Tage Tony Fordleider ist dies nicht so einfach...

denn bevor man ein Unternehmen übernimmt, treibt man es erst mal in den Ruin, damit man dann für einen minimalen Aufpreis zum Zuge kommt.

Siehe z.B. QCells, die auf eine Übernahme aus Korea hoffen. Als Aktionär wird man davon sicherlich kaum bis gar nicht profitieren.
Sunways ähnlich, auch für Apfel und Ei an LDK verhökert.

13.08.12 09:37
2

1539 Postings, 3609 Tage watchandlearnSchauen wir mal...

... es gibt genug Firmen, die mit einem deutlichen Aufpreis übernommen wurden. Nicht alle werden vorher in den Ruin geschickt. Das ist ja der Clou - manche Firmen sind so gut, die gehen einfach nicht Pleite, z.B. First Solar. Pleite geschrieben wurden sie schon lange... doch nun trumpfen sie richtig auf mit ihrer neuen Geschäftsstrategie. Für mich zur Zeit der TOP-Übernahmekandidat mit entsprechendem Aufpreis.

http://seekingalpha.com/article/...maintain-its-momentum?source=yahoo

Can First Solar Maintain Its Momentum?
August 12, 2012  | 7 commentsby: Ry Frank  |  about: FSLR, includes: CSIQ First Solar (FSLR) could just be the most volatile stock in the market these days. In less than two months, it has gone from one of the market's biggest losers to a hot growth stock.

As you can see from the chart above, First Solar fell from a high of around $35 in early March to a low of $11.43 in early June. Yet, in the last two months, it has increased in value by almost $10 per share. That translated into negative earnings per share of -$6.41 for the past year.

The reason for this unusual performance is clear. First Solar announced that its earnings in the second quarter rose by an astonishing 81%. The increase in earnings comes partly from a new corporate strategy of selling to utilities that are building giant solar farms or generating stations, rather than to individuals.

The second-quarter earnings increase was driven by new sales to utilities such as Exelon (EXC) and Enbridge (ENB). These companies give First Solar something unusual in the alternative energy sector- a large cash flow. The new sales are estimated to be $987.3 million.

First Solar is pioneering a new market that could lead to even more cash flows. It plans to build and operate solar power projects that will sell electricity to utilities. The first of these is Campo Verde, a 139 megawatt facility that will sell power to San Diego Gas & Electric (part of Exelon) under a 20-year agreement. That gives First Solar a regular cash flow from a stable customer.

If it is successful, this strategy will help First Solar reverse its negative earnings per share, which was $6.41 for the past year. It will also stabilize what has been a very volatile stock.

First Solar seems to be every value investor's dream, a stock that has been totally misread by the market. This company has been able to generate new sales and implement a successful new strategy, even as it has lost most of its share value.

To keep this distinction and set itself apart from competitors such as Canadian Solar (CSIQ), First Solar will have to demonstrate that it can actually make money selling electricity to San Diego Gas & Electric. Another potential source of cash here is the proceeds from selling the plant itself to investors. First Solar's CEO, Jim Hughes, told Forbes that he has ten potential buyers for the Campo Verde project lined up.

The company will also have to prove that it can duplicate the Campo Verde project elsewhere. Elsewhere as in cash-rich developing countries such as Saudi Arabia. The wealthy desert kingdom has ambitious plans to generate one third of its electricity from the sun by 2032. First Solar and Saudi Arabia seem like a natural fit. Saudi Arabia has lots of sunlight, but no natural gas or coal to burn to generate electricity. To generate power, the Saudis have to burn oil, which is the same as burning cash.

The business model that First Solar is pioneering with San Diego Gas & Electric can easily be transplanted outside the U.S. There are countries like Saudi Arabia and Chile that have lots of valuable resources, but shortages of electricity.

Utilities in these nations are potential customers for First Solar. So are large mining companies like Rio Tinto (RIO) and Freeport-McMoRan (FCX), which operate giant mining operations in remote areas far from power lines.

First Solar is moving aggressively to take advantage of this market. Forbes reported that Hughes was in Chile last week to meet with government officials and mining executives. This is an important step because Chile is in the middle of a serious electricity shortage that is threatening its mining industry. Hughes told Forbes that his company's solar panels are one of the cheapest energy sources for the mining industry.

Hughes thinks his company can also do well in other foreign markets. He specifically mentioned Australia, where government support for alternative energy is strong, and India. Hughes speculated that his company can capture 20% of the Indian market and 40% of the Australian market for photovoltaic cells.

First Solar seems like a company with a lot of growth potential that has suddenly shown the ability to generate a lot of cash. Hughes' strategy of concentrating on sales to the utility industry has not only paid off, but also opened the door to a potentially lucrative international market.

The speculative nature of its business does not make First Solar a traditional value stock right now, yet it may evolve into one in the near future if it can stabilize. The company has demonstrated the capability to transform leveraged profit into real cash, but it has not shown it can do that on a long-term basis.

Investors should certainly take a look at the charts before buying First Solar. It is generating a lot of cash and has demonstrated growth potential, yet it is also one of the most volatile stocks in the market today. The negative earnings per share of $6.41 that First Solar demonstrated in the last 52 weeks should give every value investor food for thought.  

13.08.12 12:46

2127 Postings, 4091 Tage ingopeMan ist das ärgerlich ...

die Aktie ist einfach eine Katastrophe !
Weiß jemand wann der Boden erreicht ist ?  

13.08.12 12:58

933 Postings, 3661 Tage smokie81Ich denke bzw. hoffe

dass das heute nur mal wieder eine Stop-Loss-Reaktion war, da viele die Aktie automatisch verkaufen wenn sie unter 1 € geht ... bleibt zu hoffen, dass sie heute wieder die 1 € erreicht (meiner Meinung nach sollte dort der Boden sein)

 

13.08.12 13:19
3

1539 Postings, 3609 Tage watchandlearnSolar gewinnt.

http://www.juwi.de/presse_termine/presse_alt/...tageszeitung_taz.html

Solar gewinnt!
Kommentar von Bernward Janzing in der Tageszeitung taz
10.08.2012 (Pressespiegel, Solar)

Und wieder ein neuer Rekordwert: Photovoltaikanlagen mit zusammen 4.370 Megawatt wurden im ersten Halbjahr 2012 in Deutschland ans Netz gebracht - mehr als je zuvor im Vergleichszeitraum.
Und so könnte das Jahr 2012 auch in der Summe den bisherigen Spitzenwert von neuinstallierten 7.500 Megawatt (2011) übertreffen. Offenkundig konnten also selbst massive Kürzungen der Einspeisevergütungen den Markt nicht bremsen. Man kann es nicht mehr anders sagen: Die Gegner des Solarzeitalters sind grandios gescheitert. Allen voran Wirtschaftsminister Rösler, der den Zubau an Solarstromanlagen auf 1.000 Megawatt pro Jahr begrenzen wollte. Oder andere Politiker, die einen jährlichen "Korridor zwischen 2.500 und 3.500 Megawatt" anpeilen.

Nachdem dieser Korridor auch 2012 wieder eindrucksvoll gesprengt wird, ist es an der Zeit anzuerkennen, dass die Photovoltaik sich nicht mehr kleinkriegen lässt. Sie wird vielmehr in Kürze auf eigenen Beinen stehen - da kann die Politik sich noch so sehr auf den Kopf stellen. Jawohl, die Botschaft ist so schlicht, und doch wird sie oft verkannt: Photovoltaik operiert heute hart der Grenze der Wirtschaftlichkeit. Und je mehr die Politik versucht diese Technik zu bremsen, umso schneller und furioser wird sie am Ende die Schwelle der Rentabilität überschreiten. Geht die Politik zu rabiat vor, wird zwar am Ende die deutsche Solarbranche auf der Strecke bleiben, doch der Siegeszug des Solarstroms an sich ist in Deutschland nicht mehr zu stoppen.

Die Gegner der Solarkraft haben die deutliche Sprache der Ökonomie nie verstehen wollen. Mit bizarren Kalkulationen haben sie von jeher versucht, die Photovoltaik unwirtschaftlicher zu rechnen, als sie de facto ist. Gerne genommen: der Strompreis im Großhandel als Referenz. Der nämlich liegt bei nur rund 5 Cent je Kilowattstunde; daran bemessen ist Solarstrom auch heute mit Preisen von rund 16 Cent aus Neuanlagen tatsächlich noch teurer. Doch der Vergleich ist ein Phantom, völlig irrelevant. Der Hausbesitzer nämlich rechnet völlig anders: Nutzt er Strom vom Dach, spart er rund 24 Cent für jede nicht aus dem Netz bezogene Kilowattstunde. Somit ist der selbst genutzte Solarstrom längst hochgradig wirtschaftlich.

Nun kann ein Privathaushalt zwar nie den gesamten Strom vom Dach nutzen (außer mit Speichern, aber die kosten wieder Geld). Doch auch der überschüssige Strom ist noch mehr wert als die 5 Cent an der Börse. Zum Beispiel als Wärmequelle: Wer mit dem restlichen Solarstrom sein Brauchwasser erwärmt und so Heizöl spart, kann sich einen Wert von aktuell 9 Cent je Kilowattstunde gegenrechnen. Alles Weitere ist pure Arithmetik. Verbraucht ein Haushalt ein Drittel seines Solarstroms anstelle von Netzstrom und verheizt die verbleibenden zwei Drittel anstelle von Öl, ergibt sich ein gemittelter Gegenwert des Solarstroms von etwa 14 Cent je Kilowattstunde. Gelingt es gar mit der Hälfte des Solarstroms Netzstrom zu ersetzen, bringt jede Kilowattstunde vom Dach 16 bis 17 Cent ein.

Damit ist die Photovoltaik auch ohne Subvention und Einspeisevergütung eine wirtschaftliche Alternative. Und jede weitere Steigerung der Öl- und Gaspreise macht sie noch attraktiver. Damit ist die Frage, über die Politik heute noch entscheiden kann, längst nicht mehr die, ob der Photovoltaikausbau rasant weitergeht - dieses Thema ist durch. Entscheiden kann die Politik nur noch, wie sinnvoll sich das Energiesystem als Ganzes entwickeln wird. Denn die individuellen Investitionsentscheidungen sind nicht per se für das Gesamtsystem optimal. So kann das Verheizen von Solarstrom per Tauchsieder zwar aus wirtschaftlicher Sicht eine attraktive Alternative sein, aber kaum aus Sicht der Thermodynamik, wonach Strom grundsätzlich zu wertvoll ist, um ihn in schlichte Wärme umzusetzen.

Die relevante Frage, der sich die Politik stellen muss, ist daher allein diese: Wie entwickeln wir unsere Stromversorgung sinnvoll weiter? Stattdessen wird die Debatte gelähmt durch Politiker und Lobbyisten der etablierten Energiewirtschaft, die Photovoltaik noch immer als unrentable Energiequelle diskutieren und diskreditieren - während Solarforschung und Solarhandwerk längst einen sich selbst tragenden Solarmarkt im Blick haben. Wer mit Solarinstallateuren und Solarforschern spricht, spürt diese Dynamik. Man trifft auf Menschen, die nicht mehr länger um Einspeisevergütungen kämpfen wollen. Auf Menschen, die an Konzepten arbeiten, um den Eigenverbrauch möglichst hoch zu bringen. Auf Menschen, die plötzlich auch das Wort Energieautarkie im Munde führen.

Und deswegen blicken natürlich alle auf das Thema Stromspeicher, hoffend, dass die technische Entwicklung der Speicher voranschreitet und die Preise weiter sinken. Alle Solarfirmen arbeiten derzeit an solchen Systemen, weil damit der eleganteste Absprung in die Wirtschaftlichkeit möglich wäre. Auch hier ist die Rechnung banal: Heute ist Strom vom Dach etwa 8 Cent billiger als Strom aus der Steckdose. Speicher sind also wirtschaftlich, wenn sie inklusive Batterieverschleiß die Kilowattstunde für 8 Cent zwischenspeichern können. Schon bald wird die Differenz bei 15 Cent liegen, denn Solarstrom wird immer billiger, Netzstrom aber teurer.

Damit ist es nur eine Frage der Zeit, bis sich auch Stromspeicher im Keller lohnen. Und dann wird es spannend. Man wird erleben, wie sich erste Häuser von der allgemeinen Stromversorgung weitgehend abklemmen - und die Photovoltaik gewissermaßen wieder dort ankommt, wo sie einst begann. In den achtziger Jahren bauten Solarpioniere sogenannte Inselanlagen mit Batterie, weil die Stromversorger sich weigerten, den Strom abzunehmen. In Zukunft werden Bürger ihren Solarstrom speichern, weil sie ihn zu lausigen Einspeisekonditionen nicht mehr hergeben wollen. Und das Ganze wird wirtschaftlich sein, egal welchen Korridor die Konservativen sich dann wieder ausdenken.  

13.08.12 13:28

2127 Postings, 4091 Tage ingopeSchade, dass die Politiker

hier solch einen Einfluss auf diese Branche haben. Ich sehe diese auch nach wie vor als Zukunftstechnologie. Sie wird sich auch durchsetzen. Früher oder später muss die Kohle- und Atomlobby klein bei geben.
Zur Zeit ist das ein harter Kampf. Es geht hier halt nicht nach sinnvollen Lösungen für  die Zukunft, sondern wie immer nur ums liebe Geld.
Es ist spannend aber auch für Investierte sehr nervenaufreibend.  

13.08.12 17:21

24654 Postings, 7288 Tage Tony FordSolarworld...

da kann man meiner Meinung nach nur abwarten und beten, dass man mit der hohen Fremdkapitalisierung über eine mögliche Krise kommt.

16.08.12 09:58
1

1539 Postings, 3609 Tage watchandlearnNeuer Markt Thailand

Hier ist seit Neuestem First Solar aktiv und demnächst wohl aus Phönix Solar (siehe Interview Börsenradio).

http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/news/2012/08/...nd-subsidiary.html

First Solar opens Thailand subsidiary, aims for utility projects

First Solar Inc. has opened a subsidiary in Thailand, hoping to capitalize on a growing desire for solar in Southeast Asia.

The subsidiary, First Solar Ltd., opened an office in Bangkok and will allow the company to start marketing utility scale solar projects there.

“The long‐term energy fundamentals in Thailand are very favorable for a solar power solution to meet their growing energy needs, and we will continue to invest here as part of our strategy to develop sustainable, utility-scale solar markets,” said Won Park, senior manager for business development at Tempe-based First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR).

First Solar has been in Thailand since 2011 and has overseen 12 megawatts of solar power plant installations.

The company has been increasingly looking at targeting global markets for its panels, particularly after the European market where it first gained broad access has dried up.  

17.08.12 15:08
2

1539 Postings, 3609 Tage watchandlearnAnalyse zu First Solar Teil 1

Detailiert, aber es lohnt sich. Im 1. Teil geht es um das Projektgeschäft.
Im letzten Absatz immerhin eine Zusammenfassung.

http://solarpvinvestor.com/spvi-news/...ve-edge-1-project-development

Assessment of First Solar’s Competitive Edge 1: Project Development    
Written by Pierce Lee | 14 August 2012

First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) reported its Q2 2012 earnings after the markets closed on August 1st. Non-GAAP EPS came in at $1.65, beating estimates by 75 cents (GAAP EPS was $1.27). Revenue was $957M, also ahead of estimates. FSLR raised the annual sales and EPS target, largely thanks to its strong project business.

The upbeat earnings report is a sharp contrast to its previous two, which were tarnished by product quality issues addressed on 18 April, 2012 in article CdTe Thin Film Panel Degradation - a Time Bomb for FSLR? and by the major reorganization described in FSLR's restructuring Plan. It also dispelled the doubt casted by some sell-side analysts, notably Maxim’s Chew, on whether pending issues might prevent some of its large projects from being actually built.

In this article, we will focus on FSLR’s project development business and follow up later on its module manufacturing. The conclusion is that FSLR is still the undisputed king of solar, despite being largely caught up in the module business. While there are uncertainties on its future, especially the project pipeline, overall First Solar is best positioned to be successful in the solar industry, well ahead of its competitors.

Due to the fast decline in module price, all the module manufacturers were plunged into deep losses for the last several quarters. The brutal price war shows no sign of abatement, meaning losses will continue. On the other hand, in the U.S. downstream project development sector is less crowded and supported by large project pipelines. The margin in the project development used to be as high as 30% though it has come down somewhat. Still project development is the only sector that shines in the whole chain. Hence it is not surprising for companies with large project-development arms to fare better in this painful period for solar companies.

A brief history

First Solar started out as a module manufacturing company using its proprietary CdTe thin-film technology. In 2007, the company moved into downstream by acquiring Turner Renewable Energy for about $34.4 million. The purchase was generally favored by analysts as FSLR’s revenue relied too much on module shipments to Germany. Going downstream provided much needed diversification and it is also acted as a channel to move its modules. In 2009 First Solar bought OptiSolar's project pipeline for about $400 million, including a 550 MW deal with PG&E. In early 2010, FSLR again bought a portion of Edison Mission Group's (EMG) solar project development pipeline. In April 2010, First Solar acquired Nextlight Renewable Power for about $285 million, adding 750 MW to its existing pipeline. In doing so, it combined the largest utility-scale PV project pipeline in the U.S. with the second largest. At one time in 2011, its project pipeline grew to over 5 GW.

Project development is a capital intensive business. Despite its financial strength and strong brand, obtaining necessary loans to move forward all its large projects became evidently difficult in 2011. Therefore FSLR sold off some of its large projects: 660-MW Desert Sunlight to NextEra Energy Resources and General Electric; 348-MW Agua Caliente to NRG; 280-MW Antelope Valley(Nebraska)to Exelon Generation; 550-MW Topaz to MidAmerican, totaling 1.84GW. After selling the projects, FSLR remained to be the EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) company for those projects.

Large Utility Scale Projects

FSLR specializes in large utility scale solar farms. Many of its solar farms are over 100 MW, a segment with only a few players qualified to bid. Among the top 10 solar PV projects in the world, 6 belong to First Solar. These large projects usually are more lucrative than smaller sized ones. Therefore, the large projects with signed power-purchase-agreement (PPA) in its portfolio can guarantee FSLR will be profitable in the next few quarters no matter how the industry changed.

This year, FSLR announced two new large 100 MW plus contracts: one 159 MW with Australia’s AGL energy and one 139 MW Campo Verde with PPA signed by San Diego G&E. Financial strength and EPC experience for large solar farms mean FSLR is the natural choice for such important and sensitive projects.

While the reputation for large projects is certainly a plus, the exposure also brings certain risks. The initial wave of large projects for bidding, which started in 2009, seems to be waning. There are voices in the industry saying those giant solar farms are likely a thing in the past, most future projects in the sweet spot will be in the range of 20 to 60 MW. Of course, FSLR have projects in the range and its reputation as giant project developer can scale down to this range, however, there is no doubt that First Solar will meet more competition.

5-Year Plan

In Q1 2012 conference call, First Solar announced a 5-year plan to transition itself from subsidized utility markets to more sustainable markets without government subsidy. The target is a 3 GW annual installation by the year 2016. The plan for transitioning is a natural response to the declining government support and a steady decline in the cost of solar PV as a viable competitor in the utility market. No surprise there. On the other hand, despite the target is not overly ambitious as 3 GW is less than 10% of projected annual installation by 2016, analysts still grilled then CEO Ahearn on how FSLR can achieve the goal. Since FSLR is in retreat at Europe, and many other world markets have not matured yet, it is indeed hard to judge whether FSLR can reach its goal. On FSLR’s credit, it said it will aggressively drive down the system cost, to about $1.15-1.20 per watt by 2016. The targeted system cost is quite aggressive and FSLR will be enormously competitive if it can get there. In the follow up article, we will illustrate that FSLR is likely to maintain its module cost competitive edge. Therefore, while its future success in the project development space is not guaranteed, the probability is high given its cost, brand and financial edge.

In the same conference call, First Solar announced that James Hughes will replace Michael Ahearn as the new CEO. Given Hughes’s experience in the utility industry, one has to agree that First Solar is moving to the direction it outlined.

Solar PV Projects in Hot Climate

Obviously, potential future markets for solar PV projects tend to be located in hot climate due to better solar radiation. The performance of FSLR’s CdTe solar panels is a hot contended issue. On the one hand, FSLR claims that thin-film modules tend to have a lower temperature coefficient which means they can output more power at hot climate than identically rated c-Si modules. On the other hand, FSLR’s CdTe modules may have higher degradation rate meaning they will lose more power output year after year .

This first part (lower temperature coefficient) is more established than the latter one (degradation) as large scale and long term studies on degradation are still not available.

Overall, I think the two characteristics of CdTe modules roughly neutralize the impact on the projects in the hot region. The degradation is a touchy issue, but FSLR has strong warranty for its modules so it is not likely a huge concern for potential customers.

Project Pipeline Growth

In the Q2 conference call, CEO Hughes highlighted new projects in Australia and India as well as in the U.S. Hughes said that he expected the company to win around 20% of the Indian market in 2012 and retain that share going forward. About 1 GW project is added to its pipeline in 2012, which now stands at 2.9 GW. In comparison, its pipeline is about 2.7 GW at first quarter.

For the new additions, Hughes explained that more than half were considered secured, although some were still being closed. The other 500MW were said to be deals that have a 50%-or-better probability of being realized. This was said to include both systems and third-party module deals, which were being planned for next year and beyond.

Given that FSLR finished 387 MW projects this quarter, current pipeline is enough to sustain FSLR for two more years at the same completion rate. This is a rather long cushion period for FSLR during the consolidation and maturing of the industry.

The pipeline growth is quite significant since the consensus before the earnings appears to be downbeat. This is reflected in the stock price fluctuating in the lower to mid teens for quite a while. Of course, it could be an anomaly that new projects sign-up slows down markedly later. We shall keep a close eye on it as it is the measurement for First Solar’s health.

Project Margin

One critical indicator for assessing First Solar's project business strength is its gross margin (GM). Critics frequently cite the deteriorating project margin to justify a single digit or low-teen PPS target. Maxim even came up with “normalized system prices of $1.55/watt yielding 10% gross margin”. The “$1.55/watt system price” and “10% GM” seem to be made-up numbers simply to justify its bias. If FSLR can have only 10% GM, then what kind GM other installers can enjoy? System price does come down due to 1) price decline of module and other input material, 2) improved installation efficiency, and 3) competition. Only 3) can lead to margin erosion. Given the project segment that FSLR thrives in (more lucrative) and its brand/efficiency etc, it is more likely FSLR can keep its project GM around 20% in the next two years despite that system price continues to fall.

It would be nice to know the exact project GM for FSLR at Q2. Unfortunately, First Solar does not report GM separately for its module and project business. However, we can have some rough idea from data it provided.

In Q2 2012, the company had a GM of 25.46%. While that was lower than its results a year ago (36.5%), it was an improvement from the 15.4% GM in Q1 2012. Due to the shift in FSLR’s revenue mix, the overall GM in the past is less indicative of future GM trend. In the past (before 2012), the module sales constitute the majority of FSLR’s revenue and that completely changed in Q2-2012.

In Q2, total revenue was $957 million with 387 MW projects' finished and 369 MW modules produced. Drawing down inventories likely contributed the slight difference in the project and module megawatts. The average module ASP should be slightly over 80 cents, giving a market valuation of ~$310M for produced modules. Hence the revenue from its project business (sans module costs) should be ~$647 million. Since the blended GM is 25.5% and module GM is around 10%, its project GM should be around 30%. Of course the finished projects in the quarter were mostly signed two or more years ago when system price is high, still it is hard to imagine the GM can fall to 10% area as Maxim predicted.

One major recent development in the solar industry is the heavy U.S. anti-dumping tariff imposed on modules made with Chinese cells. As a result, the module imports from China fell dramatically afterwards. Although the tariff can be circumvented by using Taiwan-made cells, there are still added costs. The total extra costs from the two duties (anti-subsidy and anti-dumping) are estimated to be 8-9 cents.

Longer term, these added costs give some advantage for installers who do not use modules imported from China, including FSLR and SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ: SPWR)

8-9 cents is over 10% of the current module ASP. FSLR is the biggest beneficiary since SPWR’s modules have higher costs despite the efficiency edge.

Recently, both SunPower and MEMC Electronic Materials, Inc. (NYSE:WFR) reported 2012-Q2 earnings, each receiving a boost from their own project business. SPWR has a reported GM 15.1% on a non-GAAP basis and 12.3% on a GAAP basis. For WFR, the GM is 13.2%. Neither gave details on GM for project development. WFR sold 169 MW projects during the quarter while SPWR did not give a megawatt number for its projects. For the year, SPWR stated it targeted to sell ~ 1GW projects.

Conclusion

FSLR is clearly the leader in the project development space in terms of installation megawatts and profit margin. It surprised us with a project pipeline growth at Q2 despite setbacks at Europe. While it remains to be seen whether it can keep the pipeline momentum, it is not nearly as dire as some sell-side analysts painted. First Solar also surprised on the upside with its project GM suggesting internal efficiency gain. Going forward, the input material cost decline (such as inverters) and efficiency gain should alleviate the margin erosion in the face of continued system price decline.  

17.08.12 15:10
1

1539 Postings, 3609 Tage watchandlearnAnalyse zu First Solar Teil 2

Im 2. Teil geht es um das Modulgeschäft.
Im letzten Absatz wieder eine Zusammenfassung.
Aus meiner Sicht weiterhin klarer Übernahmekandidat.

http://solarpvinvestor.com/spvi-news/...ge-2-solar-pv-module-business

Assessment of First Solar’s Competitive Edge 2: Solar PV Module Business    
Written by Pierce Lee | 16 August 2012

The true cost of c-Si modules is hard to define. There are a multitude of numbers floating around from various companies and analysts.

In previous article, we discussed the project development of First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR), which is its cash cow in the foreseeable future. In this article, we will analyze First Solar’s module business – the cost and efficiency of its CdTe thin-film modules.

Currently the mainstream solar PV modules can be divided into two camps: c-Si and thin-film, with c-Si dominating the market with close to 90% of market share. There are some varieties in each camp: multicrystalline, quasi-monocrystalline and monocrystalline belong to the c-Si camp and amorphous-silicon (a-Si), CdTe and CIGS are in the thin-film camp.

The main complain about FSLR’s CdTe module is its low conversion efficiency as compared to the mainstream crystalline silicon (c-Si) modules. While FSLR used to be the king of module cost, the rapid fall of c-Si module price eroded FSLR’s lead. Now analysts usually say both types of modules have roughly the same level of costs. Yet the momentum of c-Si module cost gives an impression that c-Si module cost will soon fall below that of CdTe and FSLR will be a laggard in the race of reducing module cost. If the cost of c-Si module is on par with CdTe, then the lower conversion efficiency of CdTe module will certainly tilt the balance in favor of c-Si module. As a result, the c-Si module manufacturers like Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (ADR)(NYSE:STP) should win the module war. Yet the headlines are telling a different story, all the c-Si module manufacturers are racking up big losses quarter after quarter. So what is going on?

First Solar’s Module Efficiency and Costs

In the latest earnings conference call (2012-Q2), CEO Hughes stated following:

“Module manufacturing cost per watt for the second quarter, excluding our German plant, was $0.72. On a comparable basis, module manufacturing cost per watt was up $0.02 quarter-over-quarter. The sequential increase was due to higher plant underutilization costs and associated inefficiencies. Had our plants run at full utilization, then our module manufacturing cost per watt would have been $0.64 per watt or $0.04 below the Q1 2012 on a comparable basis.

Our best plant is manufacturing modules at a cost of $0.63 per watt, assuming full utilization. The average line conversion efficiency for our modules was 12.6% in the second quarter, which is up 0.9 percentage points year-over-year and up 0.2 percentage points quarter-over-quarter. The year - the current efficiency rate of modules produced on our best line was 13.1% last quarter compared to 13% this quarter.”

As a comparison, the average conversion efficiency is 12.2% at 2011-Q4 and 12.4% at 2012-Q1. Here FSLR showed steady improvements for its modules. FSLR has mentioned in the past that its target is to achieve efficiency of 13.5% to 14.5% at the end of 2014. Given progress in recent quarters, the target efficiency sounds credible. The increased module efficiency will bode well for the future BOS (Balance of System) cost reduction.

As for module cost, FSLR excluded German plant (with higher cost) because it already decided to close the plant at the end of the year. On surface, the $0.72 cost is nothing to be proud of. Here is a short history of its module cost: 2006 $1.40; 2007 $1.23; 2008 $1.08; 2009 $0.87; 2010 $0.77; 2011-Q2 $0.75; 2011-Q3 $0.74; 2011-Q4 $0.73. Therefore, its cost reduction appeared to slow down dramatically in recent years. However, as Hughes pointed out, the cost at full utilization in second quarter would be $0.64, a decent fall from $0.75 of a year ago (2011-Q2). Sure the reduction is likely related to the reduced output at German plant (or the German plant is not considered), yet it exactly showed that the management had made judicious decision in shutting down the plant.

Previously, FSLR has called for a module cost target of $0.5-0.55 by the end of 2014, which is a bit aggressive. Still, anywhere between $0.5 and $0.6 will keep FSLR in the leader’s group in terms of module cost.

One final note about FSLR’s module cost is that it is ‘all-inclusive’, covering freight, warranty and recycling. On the other hand, the stated “cost” for c-Si manufacturers normally does not include freight (instead it is put into selling expenses). No recycling program is in place for most c-Si manufacturers.

c-Si Module Efficiency and Costs

Current Efficiency

c-Si module has a rather long manufacturing chain starting with polysilicon, which is small piece, high purity silicon. In the next step ingots (square or round cylinders) are made from polysilicon, which are cut into thin silicon wafers. Solar cells are made by adding electric circuits to the wafers. In the final step solar cells are packaged to make modules so that they can last 20 or more years in the field.

The c-Si module efficiency is a mixed bag due to the existence of many manufacturers. Each manufacturer typically has modules with different specifications. The difference in efficiency can be attributed to the type of wafer used, the equipments (production line) making cells and modules, as well as the components and consumables used in the production.

The type of wafer (multi, quasi-mono and mono) used in cells has a large impact on its efficiency. Mono wafers are more expensive and have highest efficiency. Multi wafers are the most economical and have reasonable efficiency. Quasi-mono wafers are still evolving; its cost should be slightly lower than mono while its efficiency is in between multi and mono. For now, quasi-mono remains a niche product with ReneSola Ltd. (ADR)(NYSE: SOL) as the primary manufacturer.

The typical module efficiencies using different type of wafers are: 14.7% (multi), 15.5% (quasi-mono) and 16.1% (mono). Due to the lower cost, multi modules have always had higher market share than the other two. Although at one time mono modules were hot at Europe due to the strong rooftop market, now mono modules are a tough sell due to a shift in customers’ preference in favor of lower cost. More specifically, higher efficiency achieved through optimized/upgraded cell and module production lines costs less than using mono wafers. As a result, the c-Si modules in current market are dominated by multi modules and the average efficiency should be slightly above 15%.

The High Efficiency Game

As a trend in the PV industry, top module companies have constantly tried to excel in the high efficiency game. The level of success is varied and generally subdued. SPVI has published several articles related to the c-Si module efficiency this year: a general discussion and FSLR’s roadmap, on Panda which is Yingli’s flagship module; EPLS which is Canadian Solar’s top line; the relative success of Trina’s Honey; the predicament of quasi-mono wafers. The take-home message from these articles is that there is a delicate balance between efficiency and manufacturing cost. It is very hard to achieve commercial success (aka making money proportional to efforts) by playing the high efficiency game. The success of Honey appears to be a rarity mostly because of its modest target and the adoption of the most economic efficiency-enhancement technologies.

Besides the above-mentioned high efficiency products, Suntech Power’s “Pluto” line and SunPower’s E Series are also well known. Overall “Pluto” has failed as a product due to cost and quality issues, despite years’ effort by Suntech. SunPower is the world leader in terms of module efficiency. All of its product lines qualified to be high-efficiency. But the high-efficiency does come with high cost. Although cost is the focus of next section, here we just point out that the average module cost for SunPower is $1.46 at 2011-Q4, and the target for 2012-Q4 is $1.10. Both are well above costs of Chinese tier-1 manufacturers.

As discussed in the SPVI articles above, there are a variety of technologies which improve efficiency developed over the last 50 years, such as MWT/EWT, SE, PESC/PERC/PERL, IBC etc. Readers can research these terms at their own interests. The theories for these technologies are well established but so far only SE has been widely adopted. The reason, of course, is that it is very difficult to apply these technologies economically. Most of the time, manufactures find the efficiency gain does not justify the cost. One example is Canadian Solar’s ELPS development. At one time, CSIQ’s CEO sounded very confident in CSIQ’s capability to commercialize the MWT technology. However, after repetitive tries, CSIQ achieved little success. In its latest conference call, its CEO stated its target capacity for ELPS is 120MW by Q1-2013. Considering that the original announcement of ELPS is June 2011 and its total module capacity is 2+ GW, one can hardly deem it successful even if ELPS reaches the 120 MW target next year.

The Efficiency Trend

In this environment when all the companies are racing to achieve lower costs, ambitions for efficiency one or two percentage higher (module > 16.5%) are tamed. They are more inclined to adopt “incremental” strategy such as using anti-glare coating, making bus bars thinner - without much disruption to their processing flows. This will give them limited efficiency gain at minimal extra costs. Another route to higher efficiency is to purchase latest turn-key production lines from equipment makers. These lines usually are not much different from a few years back in terms of processing flow; rather the individual pieces of these lines are more optimized to squeeze out additional efficiency. For example, Centrotherm’s new Centaurus line can produce cells with efficiency of almost 20%. That is why Yingli Green Energy Hold. Co. Ltd. (ADR) (NYSE: YGE) is planning expansion and Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ) is also considering expansion despite the obvious industry-wide glut. They simply want to update their lines to have a better product mix (more high-efficiency modules). Still expansion at this time is tough as almost all the module companies have heavy debt load, including Yingli and Canadian Solar.

Given continued losses and weak financials for most c-Si module manufactures, it is expected that the efficiency gain of c-Si modules will be very modest in the next few years – companies simply do not have much capital to invest. It should be at least 3-4 years before they can upgrade most of their production lines to the latest ones. The average efficiency gain from now is likely to be 1-2% by 2016. We suspect it is going to be close to the lower end instead of higher end.

Longer term, more efficiency gain will be hard as low-hanging fruits are picked. Further gain must be achieved through technology breakthrough (or rather commercialization breakthrough), which I will not speculate at this time.

Current Costs

The true cost of c-Si modules is hard to define. There are a multitude of numbers floating around from various companies and analysts. Given the under-utilization and some fluctuation in input materials, it is even harder to determine the true cost. Of course, one common term module manufacturers like to use is “processing cost”, which typically means “non-silicon wafer-to module processing cost”.

To get around the mess, I will go through Canadian Solar’s latest earnings report to find out its costs and the ASP it needed to break even at 2012-Q2. Why do I choose Canadian Solar? It is because CSIQ is one of the lowest-cost manufacturers if not the lowest. It has very good cost control and buys most wafer from GCL. Buying from GCL provides an advantage at the moment since GCL is supposedly the lowest-cost polysilicon producer and wafer maker. For most module makers, wafers from GCL cost less than self-made. In addition, the debt level of CSIQ is modest among Chinese tier-1 players. Another reason is that Canadian Solar just released quarterly report - the first among U.S. listed Chinese solar companies.

At 2012-Q2, CSIQ’s module shipments were 412 MW, net revenue was $348.2 million. Therefore the average ASP is about $0.81 (334M2/412MW after one-time item deduction). Gross profit from selling the modules was $29.2 million, implying a cost of 74 cents (per watt). However, the operating expenses were $46.2M including selling costs at $24.4M, G&A expenses at $18.4M. The research and development costs were $3.5 million and interest payments stood at $15.1 million. All these costs are relatively fixed, so math from above is that CSIQ needs revenue to be $380M to break even with one-time items excluded. That will translate to a break-even ASP of $0.92.

CSIQ’s capacity is about 2GW, so the utilization in the quarter is 82%, not too shabby among its peers. Even if one considers the slight under-utilization, the break-even ASP ought to be around 90 cents. Or can I say its true cost is 90 cents instead of frequently tossed-around numbers such as 67 cents?

In the first quarter CSIQ shipped only 15.7% modules to North America. No percentage of shipment to U.S. was reported this time around so with a rough estimate of 10%, CSIQ’s costs are not particularly skewed by the extra expenses incurred from the shipments to the US.

The Trend in Costs

Another important question would be - how much cost reduction can c-Si module makers achieve going forward? They indeed had a very impressive track record in driving down costs in the last 12-months. Silicon costs were ~$0.3-0.35 while non-silicon processing costs were around $1.1-1.2 a year ago, now they are at $0.12-0.14 and $0.65-0.75 (not including operating, R&D, and interest expenses) respectively. So can they keep the momentum going in the next 12 months?

It is easier to answer the question by separating the silicon costs and non-silicon processing costs.

Polysilicon used to be quite expensive due to limited supply. During the last PV-boom in late 2010, the spot price reached $100+ per kilogram. Now it has been hovering in the lower 20s for quite a while since the price collapse in the second half of 2011. Given the overcapacity in polysilicon supply and the break-even costs for the major producers are about $24-30 per kilogram, the polysilicon price will probably fluctuate within a narrow range in the next year or two. Hence the polysilicon cost should remain in a range of $0.11-0.15 per watt, meaning little savings going forward.

Estimating non-silicon processing costs is harder because there are much more variables. However it is much easier now because each cost component has largely stabilized. The total processing costs typically include 3 parts: polysilicon-to-wafer (or simply wafer), wafer-to-cell (or cell), cell-to-module (or module). Currently processing costs for efficient companies are: $0.18 for wafer, $0.20 for cell and $0.27 for module.

To better understand the forces behind the processing cost decline, one needs to go back and find out how the costs savings from the past 12 months were achieved. For each individual processing cost, it has following components: auxiliary input materials; costs directly related to processing such as labor, electricity; overhead; and depreciation.

The fall in the costs of auxiliary input materials is the primary driving force behind the rapid drop in the processing costs in the past 12 months. In other words, the suppliers cut their prices dramatically at the demand of wafer, cell and module manufacturers. Prices of some components and consumables were down more than 50%, a few even dropped 75% or more. Since the cost of these input materials depend on other more basic materials, it is impossible for them to decrease at the same pace as the selling price. The direct result is that many suppliers, who used to be profitable, were plunged into losses. Now only a handful of suppliers with high technological niche like DuPont and Heraeus can enjoy decent margins. Suppliers of components such as glass, aluminum frame, junction box, back panel, copper strip etc either break even or lose money. Their financial health is no better than the wafer, cell and module manufacturers. Therefore, there is little room from the supplier side to help the PV manufacturers.

For the other cost components within processing, since the processing flow remains unchanged, there is not much the manufacturers can do to reduce the costs as they are pretty efficient already. Certainly they all examined the labor costs and overhead, making some progress there. But there is a limit on how labor and overhead can be cut without a major reorganization.

Overall, there are only limited means on the table for the PV manufacturers to look for savings. One hope is that some key component makers like DuPont can significantly cut their prices. My guess is that DuPont etc may give limited concessions which could translate 2-3 cents savings. The other choice would be using cheaper replacements for certain expensive components such as EVA and silver paste. Of course, using cheaper, less-tested components is a risky bet which could compromise the module quality. By the original design, a c-Si module can last 20 or more years with only slight efficiency degradation. However, using less-tested substitutes may cut module’s lifespan and/or result a much higher degradation rate.

In summary, the rapid cost decline started last year has entered its final stage. The room for further cost decrease is very limited. The retirement of old production lines (which boosts the average efficiency and lower the per watt cost) and some reduction in input material costs may yield savings of no more than 10 cents by the end of next year. My guess is more likely 5 cents or so.

In the long term, those currently-in-red suppliers will have to be profitable to survive, thus at a certain inflection point, the costs shall rise instead of going one way down.

Conclusion

In this article the current efficiency and costs of both First Solar’s CdTe and c-Si modules are examined. In addition, the trend of both type of modules are analyzed.

While c-Si modules will still have higher efficiency than CdTe modules in the future, the efficiency gap between the two is likely to narrow slightly in the next two years. By the end of 2014, average CdTe efficiency should reach ~14% while c-Si module efficiency is going to slightly over 16%. In the meantime, the BOS cost will continue to drop, together with the narrowing of the efficiency gap, the so-called ‘efficiency penalty’ should go down for CdTe modules.

On the cost front, by using the numbers from latest quarterly report of Canadian Solar, I showed that the so-called c-Si catching up and surpassing CdTe is largely a product of misusing the term “costs”. Even for one of the lowest cost manufacturers such as Canadian Solar, First Solar’s true costs are still lower. Going forward, it appears that First Solar will have better chance to whack down costs faster than c-Si manufacturers. On the one hand, First Solar can keep investing and upgrading/optimizing its production lines. On the other hand, cash-strapped c-Si manufacturers can direct limited resources in upgrading (the expansion of YGE and CSIQ remains to be seen). Further decline in material costs will be minimal as many suppliers are struggling as well. In the end those suppliers will have to raise prices for their own survival.

Fundamentally, since c-Si modules have longer manufacturing chain and require way more types of input material, CdTe modules should have lower costs as long as the yield problem is solved. The proprietary technology that First Solar has developed over the years ensures its lead in terms of the manufacturing costs. Recent GE’s setback in its CdTe module ambition shows the technological barrier is too tough to overcome even for a giant like GE.

The solar cell tariffs imposed by the U.S. have already cut heavily into the module shipments from China to the U.S. market. There is also the ongoing anti-dumping investigation in Europe which could potentially limit Chinese module exports to Europe. The potential duties at Europe effectively add costs to the Chinese imports and make First Solar’s CdTe module appealing again.

The strategic scale-back of First Solar’s module capacity has by and large shielded First Solar from the ugly price war such that it does not to sell modules at a loss. In the meantime, it can patiently wait on the sideline until enough c-Si capacities are destroyed and module prices  will start to rise.  

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