Sharp has managed to fight its way back to profitability this year — posting an 18% boost in sales over last year, up to JPY 2.93 trillion (US$28.6 billion), and a net profit of JPY 11.56 billion ($113 million). The return to profitability is notable because of the large loss posted by the company the previous year.
The recent gains were partly thanks to the recent boom in Japan’s residential solar market, as well as the fact that 2013 was a good year for the company’s other sectors.
Solar cell sales rose by a very substantial 68.9% to JPY 439 billion ($4.3 billion) — this was partly down to the residential market, but also partly down the utilization of its panels in large-scale solar projects.
According to reps from the company, this current fiscal year will see a pick-up in the Japanese economy, and, subsequently, a pick-up in sales.
“The overseas business environment is expected to show mild recovery. However, we anticipate the situation will remain unpredictable, with some risk factors, including the pullback of US quantitative easing and a slowdown in the growth in China and emerging countries, and a geopolitical risk in Ukraine.”
Something to note with regard to increased domestic demand — the company has largely refocused on the domestic market at the expense of the international as a result of weak sales in the European market. With an increased focus on the Japanese market, sales should remain quite healthy there.
The 82 MW Oita Solar Project represents a significant boost to the country’s, and to the region’s, renewable energy capacity. Power from the new plant is currently being sold to Kyushu Electric Power Company under a 20-year power purchase agreement.
A representative of Soligent recently passed along an interesting note regarding a US movement away from solar PPAs and leases. Basically, as solar costs have dropped and banks have warmed up to solar, it has become more and more attractive for homeowners to go solar with cash or a bank loan. That trend is expected to continue. In the following Soligent graph of a home in California, you can see how different options turn out for customers over the course of several years.
Along the same lines as Soligent’s point above, analyst Travis Hoium on Motley Fool recently noted that SolarCity seems to be seeing a bigger % of its business coming from sales despite preferring to do leases.
I think cash or loan sales will become ever more common in the future, particularly as costs fall. If a consumer buys a system, he can keep the tax benefits as well as all of the cost savings from going solar. As solar loans become more prevalent, we’ll see rates fall to somewhere near SolarCity’s securitization deal, meaning homeowners will be able to take advantage of solar financing without giving ownership out to someone else.
I also think we’ll see installers compete on cost of installation as the number of installers grow, which will cut margins. It’s far easier to compare two cash offers from installers than a 20-year lease to a fixed cost to install a system, which may be the case today. Since SolarCity has better infrastructure in financing, it can offer better rates on leases, expanding margins, but won’t have the same advantage competing for cash sales.
No disagreement here, which is one reason why I’ve bought stock in SunPower but not SolarCity. Specifically regarding that topic, Travis writes:
That’s why I see SunPower, which makes the industry’s most efficient panels and sells through partners, and RGS Energy, which offers a suite of sale options, as better values in the current marketplace. With a $6 billion valuation, SolarCity is priced as if it will generate $2 in value from installations for years to come, but I think that number will fall, particularly as cash sales increase.
If the shift away from leases does happen, SunPower and RGS Energy will be better able to compete and offer more upside for investors with $4 billion and $200 million market caps, respectively.
SunPower is already profitable, RGS Energy expects to be EBITDA positive in Q4, and SolarCity is still losing money quarter after quarter and can’t generate positive margins on cash sales today. You’d have to assume leases continue to grow and margins remain high to think SolarCity is a value today and that’s not the way I think the market is headed.
To back up this one analysts thoughts and words on a potential shift away from solar leasing & PPAs, here’s a recent graph from GTM Research on the flattening out of these options as a percentage of all residential solar installations over the past few years:
Interesting stuff. But third-party solar is still clearly dominant. We’ll be keeping an eye on these things in the months and years to come.
First Solar is continuing to do quite well, based on the most recent numbers released by the Arizona-based thin-film module manufacturer. An 89% boost (to $112 million dollars) in net profit as compared to the previous year, and a 26% year-on-year increase in net sales (up to $950.2 million dollars) ain’t too shabby.
The company has also reported 404 MW worth of new bookings during just the first three months of 2014. One of these bookings is the 53 MW Shams Ma’an project in Jordan.
Total revenue also rose significantly, up $182 million from the fourth quarter of 2013. The company has attributed much of the increase in revenue to the Campo Verde project.
The 139 MW Campo Verde Solar Project in California was sold last year to Southern Company subsidiary Southern Power and Turner Renewable Energy. Roughly 65% of the company’s revenue stems from the construction and sale of utility-scale solar farms.
The company has identified 12.2 GW of potential new contracts over the next few years, with 59% coming from projects outside the US and “widespread utility scale interest in the US,” Hughes said yesterday during a conference call.
Net income in the first quarter rose to $112 million, or $1.10 a share, from $59.1 million, or 66 cents a share, a year earlier, the company said in a statement yesterday. That was more than double the 50-cent average of nine estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
First Solar CEO Jim Hughes stated: “We delivered strong earnings in the first quarter and are increasing our financial guidance for the year based on these results. We have also made significant progress in new bookings and continue to execute on our technology roadmap.”
A website titled Back Balcombe writes: “Last summer, a company called Cuadrilla came to drill for oil and gas. It did not go well. So the village did what villages do best: they held a public meeting.”
But this meeting resulted in more than complaining. It was one of countless such meetings across the world that led to a clean energy transition. In this case, a clean energy co-op called REPOWERBalcombe.
“They’re building enough community-owned solar power to match the electricity needs of every home in the village. It’s bold, it’s brilliant, and it should be the shape of things to come.”
There isn’t a lot more info there, but there’s an option to sign up for updates, and I did snap a few screenshots that I think are worth seeing:
Yes, I’m sure that first one looks familiar to many of you, as it’s the same one we often share but with white bars instead of blue. The source of the data is Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
If you’re currently considering whether or not to go solar, and you live in an area serviced by OneRoof Energy, well, now may be the time!
The solar services provider is now (during the months of April and May) offering qualified homeowners who switch to solar with OneRoof Energy’s zero-down SolarSelect® lease program 12 months of free solar payments. Those that sign up before April 30th get an even better deal — 18 months free.
If you’re in the position to, and are still considering whether or not to go solar, this might be a good time. I’d say it’s worth checking out.
“Solar lease and Power purchase agreement (PPA) programs remain the preferred method of adoption in the United States,” stated Nick Hofer, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at OneRoof Energy. “Last year more than 70% of California solar installations and 50% of installations nationwide were the result of a solar lease or PPA programs. We believe that this promotion will make it undeniable to even the most questioning of observers that affordable solar is a reality today.”
For a bit of background, OneRoof Energy is a “complete solar services provider” that offers homeowners everything that they need to go solar — handling everything from the financing, to the design, to the installation, to the project management, to the maintenance. The company allows homeowners to go solar with nothing down, and offers protection against utility rate hikes for up to 25 years. OneRoof currently serves homeowners throughout Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts.
To find out more about the promotional offer and/or OneRoof Energy in general, be sure to check out their website — which you can find here.
The days when solar power was more expensive than other power sources are quickly passing us by. News out of Europe is that commercial solar power is now at grid parity in some major European countries.
A new study, the PV Grid Parity Monitor, conducted by consulting firm Eclareon, has found that commercial solar power hit grid parity in Italy, Germany, and Spain in 2013. Based on levelized cost of energy (LCOE) calculations, commercial solar now competes with retail electricity in these European countries.
“In countries such as Italy and Germany, both at grid parity and with proper regulation, PV systems for self-consumption represent a viable, cost-effective, and sustainable power generation alternative,” said David Pérez, partner at Eclareon in charge of the study.
As you can see in the chart above, of the 7 countries studied, 4 are yet to hit commercial solar grid parity. Of them, Mexico certainly looks the best-positioned to hit it next, and France seems to be next in line after that.
Italy and Germany, on the other hand, have largely cut solar feed-in tariffs as initially scheduled. Overall, their solar policies have been much more stable. They also have policies supporting the adoption of energy storage, which is a good supplement to rooftop solar, especially if costs can be brought down as they were with solar panels.
Of course, Brazil and Mexico are seen as having the most supportive policies for solar PV electricity self-consumption.
Notably, LCOE for commercial solar power has been coming down in all 7 countries a great deal, but, as might be expected, they’ve been coming down slowest in the countries already at grid parity, which have more mature solar PV markets and have less incentive to further cut prices:
This is what you call bad solar policy, bad investment and business policy, and overall bad policy. Greece has retroactively cut solar feed-in tariffs (FiTs) by 30% on average. Of course, it comes as part of broader economic problems in Greece.
Feed-in tariffs aren’t the only thing being cut either.
“The new measures ask solar photovoltaic energy producers to contribute 35% of their 2013 income to the Greek electricity market operator LAGIE. The intention is to plug a €700 million gap in LAGIE’s fund used, which is used to pay renewable energy producers in Greece. The country has promised its international lenders – the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund – that it will completely eliminate LAGIE’s fund deficit by the end of 2014,” PV Magazine writes.
“While the same measures also apply to other renewable power producers, they are currently only required though to contribute 10% of their 2013 income to the LAGIE fund, with one exception: rooftop solar PV installations are exempted completely from this measure.”
Here are some details on the FiT cuts:
The second measure introduced by YPEKA regards the drastic reduction of FITs for operational RES plants. Again, solar PV installations face the sharpest reductions, which on average reach 30% of the initial tariffs. Retroactive FIT cuts also apply to rooftop installations.
A smoother FIT reduction, around 20% on average, applies to smaller PV projects up to 20 kW each that are not installed on buildings, and to those projects owned by farmers should they not exceed 100 kW each.
Other renewable energy systems such as wind and hydro projects have been instructed to take a much smaller FIT reduction of around 5-6% on average.
Reductions for solar PV FITs have taken into account a number of factors, such as the technology used, the time of project development, the cost of the installation, and even the location (specifically differentiating between projects in mainland Greece and in the smaller electricity grids of the many Greek islands). A critical factor also taken into account is whether a RES project has received any additional form of aid (e.g direct subsidy, tax exemption). FITs for projects receiving such aids face even sharper cuts.
The second definition of “insanity” in Google is, “Extreme foolishness or irrationality.” Unfortunately, that definition actually applies to more of what we do and don’t do than we probably want to admit. With extreme insanity, a key thing those of us observing the insanity from the outside tend to notice is that the insane action is done repeatedly. The same insane thing is done over and over and over again, and sometimes the insane person even expects to somehow get a different result despite plenty of experience showing that he or she won’t. It can be quite difficult to watch, and its certainly not a recommended way of life.
You may now be wondering, “What the hell is this guy talking about? Isn’t this site about solar power? Is he insane?” So, let’s get to the solar power part of this.
We are actually engaging in very extreme foolishness and irrationality as a society, as we are destroying the climate that makes this world livable for our species (and many others). There aren’t many planets out there that have a climate in which life can exist… actually, we’re yet to find a single one. But we are altering ours in such a way that this highly comfortable climate could disintegrate, so to speak, and become unlivable.
The good news is that we already have the solutions we need to solve this problem. One critical thing we need to do in order to solve this problem is cut the global warming pollution created from producing electricity. And that’s one of the key advantages of solar power. Creating electricity using solar panels doesn’t create any global warming pollution.
One wonderful thing about this solution is that so many of us can participate in this one. Have a roof? Go solar! It would be insane not to.
We have been burning and burning coal and natural gas. We have identified that this is warming our world. And we have identified that this warming could wreak havoc on our civilization, and could even destroy the livability of this planet. And yet, we keep burning and burning coal and natural gas. Insane. It’s time to go solar, and anyone who can do so should really be involved in solving this crisis.
Unfortunately, the whole “save the planet that we need in order to survive as a species” thing doesn’t seem to have enough power behind it for many of us. Perhaps it’s just too abstract and hard to grasp while the climate is still in fairly good shape. Perhaps it’s just not our priority while we wrestle with other issues. We will just have to face more extreme hurricanes, more extreme droughts and wildfires, more extreme floods, quickly rising food prices, and so on… no big deal.
However, there is one thing that never seems to fail to get our attention — money. And that’s one of the other big advantages of solar power. Right now, almost all electricity is delivered to us from utilities that are nearly monopolies. We don’t have a lot of control over the massive amount of money we send to them. It’s “good” that we send it on a monthly basis, at least — can you imagine if you had to pay it all at the end of the year like with taxes?
But here’s the thing. We get into the habit of sending our money to the electric companies month after month and slowly begin to just stop paying attention to that action. We get into the habit and consider it a normal part of life that we all have to go through. However, all of us don’t have to go through it. Some of us generate our own electricity through solar panels. And many others cut into that bill so much through solar power systems that it frees up tens of thousands of dollars. (Seriously, over $20,000 is the average in the US!)
Average 20-year savings from going solar in US = over $20,000. Over $30,000 in several states, and over $60,000 in Hawaii. (Image Credit: Cost of Solar)
This is one of the big advantages of solar power, and one of the advantages that seems to most influence people to finally break their insane habit of sending money to electric companies (to pollute our world).
And why wouldn’t it? Who would pass up saving tens of thousands of dollars and cutting about 1/3 of their global warming emissions?
The issue of where we will get our energy from in the coming decades is becoming ever more urgent. CO2 is accumulating in the atmosphere at alarming rates, and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently stated that the majority of known reserves of fossil fuels will need to be left in the ground if we [&hellip