Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Great Poly / Wafer Presentation by Wacker.

Link

Here's another one. This one reads like the Chinese gameplan for Solar Domination. It mentions LDK, and many other companies, back from October of 2005.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Looking forward to 2020.

Per Wikipedia, Total World Consumption of Energy in 2005 was somewhere in the area of 15TW. It's suggested that 86.5% of this total is derived from Fossil Fuels, which amounts to a total World rate of Energy Consumption of 13TW. Note, this value includes the energy content of Oil and Liquid Fuels, so is not just the Electricity component.

Using 2005 as a rough basis:

The Total Energy Consumed over the whole Year could be written as 13TW*1Year.

There is a growing consensus in the World that the first International Targets will be in the area of 20% production of Energy from Renewables by 2020. Let's be conservative, and suggest that this target will be missed, at least on a Worldwide scale. There are several major Economies that might not play along, particularly among the heavy coal users.

We'll go with just a 15% target. 15% of 13TW*1Year = 1.95TW*1Year of renewables needed for, say, the year 2020.

Pulling a number out of my butt, let's say that Solar PV will provide just 10% of this amount of Energy by 2020. That makes for a Solar PV contribution of 195GW*1Year in 2020.

Since a Solar Panel doesn't provide constant Energy, we can take some averages, and assume that over an entire year, the panel will have provided a total Energy of about about 20% of its Peak Power Rating, so in order to provide 195GW*1Year, you'd need to install 971GWp of Solar Panels.

Hmm, 971GW of installed Solar Panels by 2020. Sounds crazy.

2007 Total Installation was in the area of 8.7 GWp. That leaves 962GWp to produce over the next 12 years.

What would this look like?

Photon Consulting put out some numbers quite some time ago suggesting what the growth curve in Solar would look like up to 2012. I took 10% off of the top from each of their yearly estimates to reflect the effects of the present slowdown, and came up with the following path to 962GWp by 2020.

The Spreadsheet is here.

For sake of completeness, I also made a more conservative scenario where the present downturn caused the Photon Numbers to be slashed by 30% over the next 3 Years. See the "Scenario 2" tab.

In the end, it makes little difference whether we slow down a bit for the moment, as the long term goal is largely set, and will almost certainly be acted on with great vigor by the Obama Administration.

Is it any wonder that I look with some scorn at the short-sighted calculations regularly drawn up by Yahoo bashers who suggest that today's Solar Manufacturers will wither due to lack of future demand for their products? The market that we're talking about is simply larger by orders of magnitude than most people can visualize, and it follows that so is the opportunity at a time when wholesale replacement of Existing Technology and Energy Sources are the order of the day.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Residential thinking..

I mentioned housing back in December of '07, and though the idea behind the post hasn't become reality, I stand behind what I said.

The question right now is, how is Obama going to help to create this scenario. As it stands, we have the 15% Investment Tax Credit, but this isn't enough to give the market a sense of direction.

One item that I'd like to see would be a kind of a Government loan guarantee to banks that would support the financing of alt-energy projects. Domestic Energy Installations pay for themselves over time, and so the guarantee itself, would likely cost the Taxpayer very little. If the Government were to guarantee lending on some limited time and scale basis, banks would be incented to start to produce the lending programs that will benefit both, the banks, and the borrowers over the long term.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

GT Solar Company Profile (pdf).

From November 19th

There are various factoids about GT, and the World Polysilicon Scene.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sit down and watch some Alt-Energy Documentaries.

Kudos to Aholdd of Yahoo for the find, for both of these videos.


Here Comes The Sun
Directed by: Rob van Hattum
48:19





The Gospel of Green
Directed by: Neil Docherty, Gil Shochat
41:52



(This image links to external page with video)



Both of these include conversations with Hermann Scheer, who is apparently one of the primary architects of German Solar Policies. Quite an interesting and persuasive fellow. He has the kind of vision about the future that should definately be spread. On the other hand, he also sees the conflict, between the present Entrenched Interests and Alt-Energy, very clearly. He rightly talks about their eventual destruction in the face of changing technology, and their interest in delaying the onset of the kind of change that people like myself and so many others are interested in bringing about, each in our own way. I happen to believe that the moment that "Big Fossil," and "Big Nuclear" are particularly looking to delay, is that moment in which one of the biggest industry players decides that for their own survival they must no longer suppress the Alt-Energy Industry, but must own it.


The First Video, in particular, is an excellent discussion of the big picture in Solar, and gives several good examples of the Corporate Interests in Solar, with mentions made of of Applied Materials, Solarfun, Schott, Sunpower, BP Solar, and others. Projects and Ideas from across the World the are described by various industry players.

The Second video has a greater focus on Canada and Germany, but includes some great examples of how Germans are making money off of this industry, as well as some of the outrageous hurdles faced by technology developers in Canada.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Letter to my Representative - 11/10/08

Dear Representative XXX,

I'd simply like to voice my support for the replacement of Dingell, on Energy and Commerce, by Henry Waxman.

I'll say that I do not strongly dislike John Dingell, from what I've seen of him, but I do strongly support Waxman's consistant demonstrations of willingness to battle for what is important. Dingell is too close to US Auto Manufacturing Behemoths, and has not shown that he has any ability to stand up to those Lobbies. By doing so, he has abetted their present state of finance. Example: when US Auto Manufacturers wanted to avoid improved CAFE standards, Dingell has been their ally, and yet, modernized standards would have been exactly the incentive that our Domestic Manufacturers could have used to support not only the production of efficient vehicles for domestic use, but also to produce vehicles that would stand a greater chance of being in demand outside of the US, where people don't have money to throw into their gas tanks like Americans have had.

So, yes, I think that an independent fighter would be of great value in this environment of great change. We need to help our Auto Industry, but not by simply throwing cash at them, at the whim of their lobbies. We need new standards and incentives to empower and to direct our manufacturers in a sustainable direction, and we need leadership to back it up in Congress. Bailing out the companies, and then supporting their Lobbies in defense of the status quo, is exactly what we can't afford to do.

Thanks,
D P

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Eve Thoughts - 11/3/08.

Obviously this election is critical in many ways, but the direction of Future Energy Policy is at the top of the list.

In the last few months we've seen Billions of Dollars come out of stock holdings of Exxon and other Big Oil Companies. We've seen literally Trillions of Dollars get pulled out of the markets as a whole, as fear of losses AND uncertainty in US policy direction has weighed on Investors' sense of security. This has been in addition to, and in part, caused by, massive losses and fear of losses in the Derivatives Markets, which will likely continue.

On the other hand, while Trillions of Dollars have been pulled out of the Stock Market, rather alot of it has been converted to various forms of Cash and Bonds. The money doesn't want to stay in these forms, it wants a place to grow. Without direction from the top, though, there has been no safe place to park this money; no safe place, at least, in which long term growth has appeared likely no matter who would take the Presidency.

Across the Globe, Governments and Central Banks have been dumping money on the immediate problems; to try to cover losses; and to try to stop the selling; but what is missing is an overall plan to stabilize housing prices, and get Americans (and Europeans, and Asians) back to productive and sustainable work. Obama has a plan in the US to do this through middle-class tax cuts, infrastructure / energy investment, and other common sense measures such as extension of unemployment insurance. The goal is to help keep as many people as possible in their homes while they find a way to adapt to the changing Economy, as well as to provide an overall stimulus for smart growth. In addition, an Obama Presidency will likely bring some confidence to Investors around the World that the US Markets will be regulated, open, and fair to all investors. The long term Naked Shorting of stocks is an example of a reason for Foreign Investors to be wary of investing in US Securities, or of offering their shares on US Exchanges. We've recently seen the shinking of the Naked Short Threshold List down to a very few companies, and in fact, LDK has fallen off. Now we just need a President who will assure that these regulations are enforced.


Overall market conditions aside, this election will mark a turningpoint in the direction taken in US Energy Policy. Though the immediate need for Fossil Energy will be unchanged no matter who wins, the future under Obama will be clear, and it will be green. The Markets must move to reflect this once the decision is made.

Under McCain, for instance, you'd want to be invested in Fossils and Nuclear. The fact that McCain has paid lip service to Renewables does not counter his history of inaction, nor his active opposition to these technologies. His prioirities as President have been quite clearly demonstrated by his Campaign Activities. A great symbol of the McCain Camp's Antipathy towards renewables is Sarah Palin's recent visit to a US Solar Manufacturer, and her entirely inappropriate and uninformed littany of sales pitches for Coal, Nuclear, and "Drill, Baby, Drill." The term "Solar" was used twice.

Obama represents a sharp departure from this position, and he's stressed over and over that Energy would be his TOP Priority, and at the top of this list will be investment in a "Smart Grid," which will modernize the US Power Grid. The modernized Grid will provide High Efficiency transport of Electricity across the Nation, irrespective of start and end points. This is critical to supporting a Decentralized Power Production Infrastructure, such as we will see with the implementation Green Energy Production. For instance, if T Boone Pickens wants to install a Billion Dollars worth of Wind Turbines, then Obama would let him do it, and would make sure that when Pickens sets up a farm, he'll have access to Electricity Markets all across the US, without the limits imposed by todays outdated grid. Simultaneously, Obama supports moves to get as many cars off of gas as soon as possible. The end result of this will be lower demand for gas and oil, and higher demand for electricity.


Is it any wonder that big money has left the market, and stayed on the sidelines? Who's going to bet Billions of Dollars that a black man would become President of the United States? And then again, who's going to bet their Billions on a 72 year old man backed up by an(other) Incompetent Dominionist? I think we know the answer. Nobody is making either bet, but they've got to be getting edgy.


The big decision is tomorrow, and the markets will respond appropriately to whatever certainty follows. I can't wait!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What this is.

This is assuming that the Market survives. I'm sorry that I have to preface this way.


This is a rare chance for "the little guy" to buy in BEFORE "the big guy." We KNOW how big the totality of the various alternative Energies are striving for, and it's as big or bigger than the totality of today's Coal and Oil Industries. That's freakin' big.

So, today's big money, that is invested in yesterday's technology, is looking at a situation where they are simply unable to take part in the presently tiny alt-Energy industry with any significant portion of their vast wealth, without creating an incredible bubble.

On the other hand, they are also looking at a situation where that tiny industry is going to replace them, unless they own it, and they simply cannot let that happen.

Therefore, they will have to buy in at some point, bubble or not, and the advantage goes to the little guy, as he can put a huge portion of his total wealth into this industry without moving the dial at all. The little guy can wait till the big guy comes looking for shares in final desperation for ownership of future productive capacity.

Now, this is always the game, right? Everybody is trying to get in before everybody else. The trick is to be right about where the big guy is going, beforehand. Why am I so confident? Because we're talking about Energy.

There is no Economy without Energy. That's a basic physical fact, and not even the most powerful equations of Economists can supersede it. The Economic Powerhouse that gives value to the present set of World Currencies, demands an incredible amount of Energy.

Therefore, since the Rich and Powerful benefit neither from the collapse of the economic system as a whole, nor from the inevitable replacement of the Fossil-based Industries that they currently own, the conclusion of greatest likelihood is that those Rich and Powerful will at some point move to own the future industries. When the move is made, there will be competition between the wealthy, and associated rapidly inflating prices.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thought for the day - 9/29/08

Today alot of cash was pulled out of stocks. Maybe there will be more selling tomorrow.

At some point some, at least, of that money is going to go back into the market. Where is it going to go? Exxon was down 8.3% today, and other "Big Oil" suffered as much or more.

Ok, so LDK was down 15+%, but that's normal for LDK. What happened to Exxon isn't normal. In LDK's case, 5.11 Million Shares traded on average around $32 per Share. So, $163 Million traded hands on LDK, whereas $4.5 Billion traded on Exxon alone. The same kind of ratios apply to other companies in the Solar and Oil Industries.

The conclusion? Yeah, I don't know. The Markets are dangerous right now, but if reality sets in, it's a pretty safe bet that some of that money from the Oil Behemoths will spill onto World Solar. Big Money is simply UNABLE to make significant investment into this little critical industry without sending prices through the roof. We're seeing how long they can hold off, right now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

WSJ - Bill Gates Goes For Algae, Invests in Biofuel Maker Sapphire Energy

Bill Gates is plunging his hands into pond scum.

"Cascades Investments LLC, Mr. Gates’ personal investment vehicle, is backing Sapphire Energy, a start up working towards a commercial-scale facility to produce oil from algae. And by all indications, he is not trying to save the world from its petroaddiction. He’s trying to make some money."

GE Energy - Threatens to Leave America if no Renewable Support.

“If the U.S.government is not going to be reliable and predictable [on clean-energy policy], we’ll go to Germany and China,”

- John Krenecki, head of GE Energy


'The head of GE Energy, the conglomerate’s unit that makes everything from wind turbines to nuclear reactors, flew down to Washington again today to plead with senators to extend tax credits for renewable energy. The credits, still crucial to making clean energy competitive, are set to expire at the end of the year, despite at least eight tries so far to renew them. That threatens to slam the brakes on two gangbuster years for American wind and solar power.'


http://blogs.wsj.com/environmentalcapital/2008/09/12/industry-to-congress-renew-the-expiring-clean-energy-credits/?mod=googlenews_wsj



That's right, GE is threatening to move their fastest growing Division OUT OF THE UNITED STATES, because of the expiration at the END OF THIS YEAR of the existing tax credits for Renewable Energy.


Congressional Democrats have tried EIGHT TIMES to get the credits extended, but the President and Lockstep Republicans have blocked every attempt. Why have they blocked it? Because they Refuse to PAY FOR IT. One of those attempts to extend the Credits was paid for by Deficit Spending, and guess what? It passed the Senated with 80 Votes. In that case, though, Democrats in the House refused to back it, because they are making the hard choice to be fiscally responsible. In another case, a Bill got to the Senate with 59 votes. McCain was in Washington DC and was available to vote, but he did not show up for work, instead he claimed that the issue needed further study. It's outrageous.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Senate Energy "gang" Grows To 20

This is a good compromise, and Obama has already stated that he would support it.

We need this Bill for a host of reasons, from Economic Benefit to National Energy Security Benefits.

It will be interesting to see what McCain says about it as I don't believe he's made any public statements on it.

Credit to Timdo67 of Yahoo for the link!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Biden / Friedman - Meet the Press - Video.

See it Here.


Excellent Interviews.

Biden definately shows his smarts in a way that I hadn't seen before, and Thomas Friedman is a must see if you're looking for the Energy Revolution. He's all over it, and from this interview, he's demonstrating that he's watching the situation carefully. He describes the situation with China well, and is clearly quite inspired.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Spain raises Solar Limit to 450MW for '09 and '10

Spain Raises Cap on Solar Energy in Revision, Confidencial Says

"Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Spain raised the limit on solar energy production to as much 450 megawatts for next year and 2010 in a revision to proposed rules, El Confidencial reported, citing unidentified people in the industry.

Spain's Industry Ministry will cap output at 400 megawatts to 450 megawatts a year, up from a proposal of 300 megawatts, El Confidencial said."


For some Background of the situation in Europe, see this.


Here's a new IBD article on Solar Pricing Estimates


Credit to Hacker4502 and Diaoko of Yahoo for links.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Somewhat depressing article behind the link.

www.ChrisMartenson.com

"The way I see it, our markets are now largely out of the hands of “investors” and are mainly controlled by large trading funds, which use “black box” computers to trade the markets in a very highly-aggressive and rapid fashion. I have it on pretty good authority that there is a single hedge fund (just one) that constitutes 10% of all shares traded on any given day."

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Windfall Taxes on Big Oil.

Obama supports them, as does Palin.

Just a note on Palin's support of Windfall Taxes on Oil Companies, remember that Alaska is a very Socialist State (believe it or not). Some factoids from Wikipedia point out that Alaska has the 5th largest per capita Gross State Product of all the US States, for which Oil and Gas accounted for 80%. There is an "Alaska Permanent Fund" controlled by the State Government which pays out a dividend to all eligible Alaskans, which amounted to $1963.86 in 2000. So, it's pretty easy to keep Alaskans happy, just try to increase Oil Revenues, and thus boost the yearly Socialist Incomes. See.

So, they are both in support of Redistribution of Wealth from Big Oil.

Ok, let's look at this in a completely different way.

Per Google, Exxon alone reported $38.968 Billion in Cash and Cash Equivalents, as of the end of Q2. Other companies include, Shell at $8.990 Billion, Chevron at $8.180 Billion, and BP at $3.593 Billion. This is what they have in CASH and CASH Equivalents. This money ($60 Billion Total in just the four listed Companies) isn't even tied up in Investments. It's what they've got in the sock drawer ready to move immediately as needed.

So yeah, as a bit of an Exxon Watcher, I can tell you that they've been building up this Warchest for quite some time. What are they going to do with it? Well, IMO they are going to invest it in Alternatives, but not yet. They will wait as long as possible before showing their hand to the public.

So, Obama and many others want to put a Windfall Tax on these big Oil companies. What affect would this have on the Investing Choices made by the Managers of this Big Money?

Well, it's entirely possible for Companies like Exxon to DECREASE their overall Profits, and AVOID a Windfall Tax. They'd do this by INVESTING more of that money into a foundation for Future Growth, like in Alternatives.

Sounds great to me. As it stands, they're just sitting around cashing in on the incredibly high prices that we're currently experiencing, and by delaying future production they are directly putting continued upward pressure on those prices, which is very much sapping the strength of the entire Economy.

The Windfall Profits Tax seems like a good way to put Pressure on these Companies to Invest those Profits. They need to decide sooner, rather than later, if they are going to End their Corporate Lives as Oil Companies, or whether they are going to Continue on as Energy Companies.


EDIT: In support of my claim that Palin Supports Oil Taxation, plus an additional thought on the subject:


http://www.adn.com/front/story/442702.html

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008103325_alaskatax07.html


Her plan was to give every Alaskan $1,200 as energy cost relief, based on Oil Windfall Profits Taxes, and increased Oil Tax Increases that she supported as Governor. Geez, I wish my State had Oil.

Here's another weakness of Palin. Any Economics that she concieves of is based on a Socialist State, with a very very simple Economy. It's 80% based on Oil and Gas, and the Population is very very small. Does she understand the impacts of Presidential Decisions on Large metros, when the largest number of people that she's ever had to deal with is the Population of Alaska, which is only 670 Thousand People?

As Governor of Alaska, when has she had to closely deal with any one of the many Industries that make up the American Economy? There are no Auto Manufacturers, Major High Tech Companies, Huge and Troubled Financials; heck there isn't even very much Agriculture in Alaska.

So, expect no help for McCain on the Economic Front.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sent to my CEO just now - Peak Oil.

Hi D,

I'm going to pass this around to some others, but I thought I'd pass yours along with a short personal note.

We haven't talked in quite some time, but if you remember, I have a particular interest in Energy Issues. I couldn't go into too much detail on all of the aspects without turning this into a book, so I'll keep it short. :)

Linked, you'll find a 18 minute long video, which puts the concept of "Peak Oil" into sharp relief, and I hope that you can find the time to watch it.

As you've probably noted, discussion of Energy Issues have increased in volume over the last year or so, and with very good reason. Of all of the reasons that are typically mentioned, however, Peak Oil is not one of the more common items mentioned, though it is arguably the most critical.

In terms of a specific relationship to and ; in brief, the wellbeing of a Company and Economy has no greater dependence than to the sources of Energy that allow for the functioning of all of its parts. Consider just the incredible feat of staffing a Company with hundreds of Employees who must travel regularly to work from all parts of a City, or County, or Country, or even the World.

Maybe this doesn't seem like so much of a miracle to you; but it can certainly be said that such a possibility has not ever been had in any historical setting prior to about the middle of the last century, and it was Fossil Energy that has made it possible.

So, without further adieu, here is the video: http://www.chrismartenson.com/peak_oil .

FYI, the creator of this video is very credible, and his facts are sound. The remainder of the videos at the site are also excellent primers for understanding of the Economic Challenges that we find ourselves in at the moment, from the basics on money creation, debt, inflation, etc. I go out on a limb and suggest that you surely have a strong basis in Economics, but I'll also suggest that you may have never seen many of these concepts presented in such a way as in these presentations.

Anyway, I hope that you enjoy the video, and I hope you don't mind the intrusion into your day. Also know that if you have any questions on this issue, please don't hesitate to ask.

Yours,
DP

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Must See Video - Peak Oil - TheEndofMoney.com

http://www.chrismartenson.com/peak_oil


This is a great video, and there are many other videos on the same site.


Please take a few minutes and watch it.


My thoughts in brief:

So far, the market itself is doing a shitty job of preparing us for the physical realities that we're about to face. Entrenched Energy interests are suppressing potential competitors (Solar, Wind, etc.) in various ways (both in the Private Sector and in Government). The valuations assigned to things by the market, as dependent on the decisions of its participants; is dependent on the level of information had by those participants. Americans are NOT informed on Energy Issues, and particularly they're not informed on just how critical these issues are in comparison to just about every other issue.

I'd like to see the market do the trick here, and in some way's it is getting started, but its opponents have an incredible amount of power to manipulate the Markets. At the very least, I think they're waiting till November before accepting the fact that things are changing, and the time for massive investment has arrived.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008

WSJ - Feb '08 - Asia Coal Issues.

China Spurs Coal-Price Surge

This goes well with my still incomplete comparison between Solar and Coal.

Incredible Paper on the Economic Inviability of Nuclear Power.

The Nuclear Illusion

Here's the Author before Congress.

I could fill pages upon pages with the data that struck me very strongly, but I won't bother. Just read the whole thing. :)

Last, by random chance, an Article on Yahoo's front page gives some support to the challenges of Nuclear.

Friday, August 15, 2008

IPO Note: Changing World Technologies

Changing World Technologies IPO


I remember these guys from way back, and at the time I was excited for their technology.

In fact, I've stated that when I die I'd like to be converted into useable Energy by their process (as a joke, of course). :)

We'll have to see what the details look like.

They could be explosive if their technology is efficient, though it's another case of an Energy / Food tradeoff, as if they weren't turning those turkeys into Energy, they carcasses would otherwise become Fertilizer or possibly Livestock Feed.

Cramer - Mad Money - 8/13/08

Cramer - Mad Money - 8/13/08

"How do you buy the stock of a great company, AFTER it's reported a monumental earnings blowout and gone so high.

Thats the question I'm answering for you this week. In order to try and help you make money, off of companies that reported the biggest beats during earnings season, because that means that they will likely outperform the rest of the market.

...

The reason we're focusing on ORB is the fabulous quarter ...unclear... July 17th when the company reported 35 cents a shares. You know, that was actually 12 cents higher than the 23 cent consensus estimate, ...unclear... 52 percent beat.

ORB also raised it's full year guidance from 84 to 89 cent range to 93 to 97 cents. It's a wholesale reevaluation of this company. It booked $425 million in new orders, $4.2 billion backlog. This is a business with a market cap of just $1.5 bill. It's backlog is 2.5 % of the entire company.

Now every time we've seen that it has either produced a takeover or major move, whenever the backlog is that much bigger."

...


Side Note:

LDK's Market Cap is 4.33B, and their backlog is 12,482 MW over the next 10 years. Even assuming a low average ASP over that time of, say, $1 / Watt, gives a backlog of $12,482 Billion, or 2.88 times the Market Cap.

Oh, and they beat by so much more.

How's that sound to ya', Cramer?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Good News from the States! 800MW in California.

Two Large Solar Plants Planned in California

"Companies will build two solar power plants in California that together will put out more than 12 times as much electricity as the largest such plant today, the latest indication that solar energy is starting to achieve significant scale.

The plants will cover 12.5 square miles of central California with solar panels, and in the middle of a sunny day will generate about 800 megawatts of power, roughly equal to the size of a large coal-burning power plant or a small nuclear plant. A megawatt is enough power to run a large Wal-Mart store."

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Coal / Solar Cost Comparison - Final Draft

Note: This article is under revision, considering current fluctuations in price. The Concept is sound (IMO) as a way to make rough comparisons in cost, but the Prices are presently off.

Also note, the 33% Insolation that is used as a basis for comparison, is very high for a stationary system, but well within the range of a tracking system. For more information on Insolation, see "A Note on Units of Energy and Insolation."





I'll set up two equivalent scenarios using Coal and Solar, and will then make comparisons.




Note: I make numerous assumptions, and will mention these where appropriate.




For this thought experiment, we'll imagine that both of these industries are starting from scratch with equal Energy Production Capacities. In reality, of course, Coal has tremendous existing Scale Advantage over Solar.

This will be a demonstration of how fuel costs could affect the long term comparative cost of the Coal Energy vs. Solar Energy.

First, imagine two industries; Solar and Coal. The goal of both of these industries is to produce Energy.




Now, divide each of the industries into three groups.




Group One:

Group One is made up of those segments of the Industries that produce the actual Electrical Generation Facilities.

In the case of Coal, this is the industry that produces the actual Power Plant. It would include everything from the ground up, like the steelworks that made the metal, to the quarries that produced the Concrete. It would include the Engineers, Managers, and Laborers for the Plant Construction, as well as the Lawyers and Lobbyists required to work with the Government and Public to support the plant's construction.

In the case of Solar, this would include all of the players from TCS, Wafers, Crucibles, and Modules, through the final Solar Power Plant Installation. Once again, it would include all of the extraneous support required for the project.


Group Two:

This group is made up of everyone associated with supplying the fuel for the Power Plants that were produced by Group One, above.

- For Coal, this would include everything from the actual Mining of the Coal; the engineers, geologists, equipment operators, supervisors, etc. This group would also include the Transportation of the Coal to the Power Plant.

- For Solar, there is no Second Group. There is no Delivery of fuel to the Solar Plant.


Group Three:

This is all of those involved in the upkeep over time of the power plants. I'll ignore this group, and give Coal a freebie. I think it's safe to say that Solar will beat Coal on Upkeep Costs over time.



Notes and Assumptions:




Note: The Solar Plant is going to have to be rather larger in peak rating than the Coal Plant, since Sunlight isn't constant. 33% is a fair conversion for a very sunny place, so our Solar Plant has to be three times the rated output of the Coal Plant (Say, 350MW Coal = 1050MW Solar). Whatever actual output we settle on, we just want the total yearly output of Energy from both plants to be the same for comparison purposes.

Note: Solar does not provide a base load like Coal. We're just looking at total Energy Output, not the convenience or timing of the final product. Ultimately, for future base-loads, we'll need a heck of a grid, plus some other provider like Sequestered Coal, Geothermal, or something else like that.

Note: I have Silicon-based Photovoltaic Solar in mind in writing this.

Note: PV Solar lends itself to a decentralized solution. Therefore, when talking about a 1050 MW Installation, we don't have to assume that some company has bought 1050 MW worth of Panels and Installed them as a single project. Instead, we can talk about a total of 1050 MW of Panels installed anywhere, in any distribution. Whether Centralized, or not, a Watt of Solar Energy offsets a Watt of Fossil-based Production.

Note: The referred-to Spreadsheet is likely not entirely clear to anyone but myself. I did try to add descriptions to help, but there are a lot of numbers involved. Feel free to counter my numbers with your own if you think that I'm off on anything.

Assumption: I've worked out several Cost scenarios involving guesses on future Inflation / Coal Price Increases. Of course there's no telling how the price of Coal will vary over the next 25 Years. There are numerous reasons to suggest, however, that the price of Coal will not remain static, particularly in the face of Peak Fossil and US Dollar Depreciation. Even if Coal is not near Peak, Peak Oil will put increasing upward price pressure on Fuel to support Coal Deliveries. Nearly all of the price pressures in the foreseeable future point towards a continued Increase in the Price of Coal, particularly in the price of non-local Coal that requires long distance transport.

Assumption: No cost factors related to future Climate Change Regulations are included in this Document. This gives a huge Freebie to Coal, as Sequestration and Carbon Credits will add greatly to the cost of Energy Production from Coal Sources over the next 25 Years.

Assumption: No cost factors related to Increased Healthcare Costs due to the Burning of Coal. This is another Freebie for Coal as far as this paper is concerned.

Assumption: I assume for the initial calculations that the lifespan of the Coal Plant and the Solar Plant are equal to 25 Years. The lifespan of either a Coal Plant or a Solar Plant is certainly greater than 25 Years. I'll look back at this in a later section.

Assumption: I assume for the initial calculations that the Conversion Efficiency of the Solar Panels stay constant throughout the life of the plant. Again, I'll look back at this in a later section.



Imagine both a Coal Industry and a Solar Industry, each capable of producing a single Power Plant per year (or arbitrary unit of time, really).




Year One: Both a Coal and a Solar Plant are built.

By the end of year One, both the Coal Plant and the Solar Plant have produced one Yearly Energy Unit. The Coal Plant has consumed it's required yearly supply of Coal.

Year Two: Both a Coal and a Solar Plant are built.

By the end of this year, the Plants that were built last year, each produce their total yearly capacity in Energy. In addition, the new plants being constructed this year have each produced a Yearly Energy Unit. The two Coal Plants consume a total of 2 Units of Coal for the year.

The Total Amount of Coal burned since the first Year is 3 Units.

Year Three: Both a Coal and a Solar Plant are built.

By the end of this year, the Plants that were built in the two previous years, each produce their total yearly capacities in Energy, for a total of 2 Units of Energy from Solar and Coal Plants. In addition, the new plants from this year have each produced a Yearly Energy Unit. The three Coal Plants consume a total of 3 Units of Coal for the year.

The Total Amount of Coal burned since the first Year is 6 Units.



Now, to make some Comparisons between Coal and Solar based on the above setup.




Comparison One: Side-by-Side – Energy Output

Take a look at this spreadsheet, I'll take it out 25 Years.

See Sheet 1.

This first set just shows that over 25 years, the total Energy Output of both our Coal and Our Solar Industries are the same. Easy enough, that was part of the basic assumption.


Comparison Two: Side-by-Side – Feedstock Demand

This next set shows how the total demand for Coal Feedstock grows over time.

See Sheet 2.

Per Plant, of course, it's linear; just One Unit of Coal Fuel per Year per Plant; however, as the number of plants increases, the Total Yearly Demand for Coal for the Industry increases exponentially based on the rate of increase of demand. This is a recipe for increased cost of that fuel over time, particularly since the Coal is utterly destroyed in the process of burning; there is no recycling or conservation of raw materials.

In fact, over the first 25 years of the scenario, the yearly demand for Coal from the Power Plants has increased 25 times. Unless supply increases similarly, prices will have to increase due to the additional demand.

This is where our assumption that the Coal Industry isn't actually a behemoth in comparison to Solar comes in. Of course, the Industry is so large that an extra 25 Plants worth of Demand isn't going to stress out the Suppliers too much. However, the ability of the Coal Industry to increase supply to meet demand is not infinite, particularly since, once the coal is gone from a site, it's gone and the total production from that site has to be replaced by production from a new site. Finding new sites gets more difficult over time, particularly as International Politics and Dependence on Support from Sovereign Governments creates Long Term Complications and various forms of Blowback.

Looking at some actual Coal Consumption Numbers (See P.35), we see that in 10 years between '97 and '07, consumption of Coal increased from 2317 to 3177 (Millions of Tons of Oil Equivalent), or by 37%. According to The World Coal Institute, "at current production levels coal will be available for at least the next 147 years." They specify at "current production rates," which says to me that they are not taking into account increases in Demand / Production, as production rates would either have to increase to meet demand, or else price would have to go through the roof to take into account the discrepancy. Oddly enough, at the beginning of the writing of this paper, the World Coal Institute estimation was that we had 155 years worth of Coal remaining, but now, having confirmed my links, I see that they've updated this number to 147 Years, which means that in about two weeks of time, the World Coal Institute revised their estimate down by eight years*. For a counter opinion on the timing of Peak Coal, see this article which concludes that it could be in as soon as 15 years.


Comparison Three: Costs – Inflation Scenarios

Looking at a specific example, I'll take a look at some samples of Coal Plants, to see how much coal they each go through in a year. I've grabbed a couple of examples from the web, which gives some idea of how much coal a plant will go through, compared to its rated power output. It looks like Milliken Station on Cayuga Lake is quoted as the most efficient plant of the four that I found (in Energy per ton of Coal), so I'll use that plant as an example, and support it as within a reasonable estimation with some averages from www.powerofcoal.com.

See Sheet 3.

In fact, it appears that the fuel cost that I derive for Milliken Station is slightly above the average in the Industry. Per PowerofCoal. Working out the Cost per Watt from Milliken Station over 25 Years at $100 / ton gives $6.26/Watt*25 Years. This compares to the National Average, which works out to $5.18/Watt*25 Years. Note that since this “PowerofCoal” reference was dated, most Coal Prices have increased quite dramatically, so the national average costs have probably increased by 25% or more.

Note: Per “Checking my Numbers,” below, it appears that Milliken Station is very close to the theoretical maximum in terms of Energy Production / Ton of Coal. Therefore the PowerofCoal Numbers are likely skewed in some way, likely due to the Particularly large amount of easily recoverable Coal in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming, and possibly also due to Government incentives at some stage of the Coal Energy Production Cycle.

Over the first 25 years of this plant's life, it costs a total of around $2.6 Billion in initial Construction Costs and Yearly Deliveries of Coal Fuel. Of course, this assumes that the price of Coal doesn't increase over this 25 years, and it assumes that the plant costs nothing in maintenance. As shown on Sheet 3, if Inflationary factors are considered, total cost for this near average plant over 25 years could actually approach $6+ Billion.

For Fuel Cost Estimation for other Coal Plants, see Sheet 4.

Ok, now to look at an equivalent Solar Installation (1050MW @ 33% of Peak in Total Energy Output). There are alot of different ways to work out sample prices for equivalent Solar Installations. The first, and ugliest example would be to use the retail price data from Solarbuzz.

According to Solarbuzz, the average US Retail Price for Panels is $4.82 Watt, and the Total Cost of the Project is about Twice the cost of the PV Modules. Using this method arrives at an end resulting cost of between about 2 and 5 times the cost of an equivalent Coal Plant over 25 years (Depending on Future Inflation). At this price, the total cost of the Installation would be $4.82/W * 1MillionW/MW * 1050MW * 2 = $10.12 Billion (compared to $2-$6 Billion for an equivalent Coal Plant). Wow! Ok, but this number reflects the many inefficiencies of small-scale retail distribution and installation. It also represents the current high demand / low supply that we see in the World PV Market, reflected among other things by a cost of Polysilicon of 5-10 times (or more) the cost of its production (Polysilicon costs are around 40% of the total cost of producing Solar Panels at this time).

So, with a 25 Year window, it's tough to compare the Best-case scenario for Coal to the Worst-case scenario for Solar at present Solar Prices. We'll get back to this one a bit later.

Instead, I'll try to gauge the cost of some existing large scale PV Solar Installations. Attached you'll see a few price references to indicate the Cost / Peak Power that is currently available for mid-size Installation sizes.

See Sheet 5.

This spreadsheet shows some examples of Solar Power Plants in the real World, their output, and their projected costs. Remember, that I've chosen a 1050MW Solar Plant to be equivalent to a 350MW Coal Plant in annual Energy Output.

The Price per Watt ranges from $5.33 -$8.05. So, using this range of prices to construct a theoretical Solar Plant of 1050MW would give us costs ranging from $5.8-$8.5 Billion. Remember, this is compared to a cost for coal of my just slightly above US average Coal Power Production Costs of $2.6-$6.5 Billion.

Personally, I think that assuming future inflation to be zero is ludicrous, and can't help but think that the much safer bet is that Coal Fuel Prices will increase significantly faster in the near and mid-term future than we're used to thinking about. If this is the case, then there are cases in this scenario in which Solar Installation would be the best economic choice for installation RIGHT NOW.


Comparison Three A: Costs – Inflation Scenarios – Extended to 50 Years

We know that a Coal Plant Lifespan isn't limited to 25 Years. We know that Solar Panels are typically warranted out to 25 Years. We also know, however, that Solar Panels can last significantly longer than 25 Years. Sheet 7 gives some idea of what kind of useful lifespan we are looking at as far as Solar Panels, based on a .5% degradation in output per Year. Considering this degradation would certainly throw off the previous Calculations, so I'll consider it for this scenario. I'll also cut down the total output of the Panels by 5% due to Inverter Losses, and by 10% for High Temperature Loss. In addition, I'll take into account the Panel Output loss over that 50 Years using the Chart on Sheet 7 by reducing the overall Output by an extra 12.5%. All of this means that now, instead of needing 1050MW to equal the 350MW Coal Plant, we're going to need a 1364MW Solar Plant.

As before, using Solarbuzz, $4.82/W * 1MillionW/MW * 1364MW * 2 = $13.15 Billion for the entire Solar Installation.

Now, for the Coal Plant, we'll figure out the cost over 50 Years assuming some inflation rate. This time I'll assume a rate of 4%. See Sheet 8. It seems that assuming 4% Inflation in the price of Coal over these 50 Years, even with all of the negative offsets that I've just added to the cost of the Solar Installation, the Coal Plant LOSES with a total fuel cost of $13.4 Billion.

Remember, Solarbuzz Numbers are Retail. How much money can we save for a utility-scale operation by buying bulk? I'm going to take a wild guess.

In the real World, Trina Solar recently reported an ASP, or Average Selling Price, of $3.85 / Watt, which is relatively high relative to other Solar Manufacturers, but well below Retail. Given a direct relationship with a Modulemaker such as Trina, and the ability to buy at around $3.85 / Watt, brings the cost of our 1364MW Solar Plant cost down by $2.6 Billion to $10.50 Billion.

We can do more. Solarbuzz says that the total cost of the Installation is twice the cost of the Modules. Well, clearly this reflects the cost of Installation on the Retail Level, which will certainly be higher than the cost of Installation on a Utility Scale. It is much more challenging to do thousands of Individual Installations on unique rooftops all over a region, than it is to take a piece of land and set up a large scale array of panels. Another Efficiency factor to be found in Large-scale installations will be the savings due to an efficiently engineered wiring and electrical design. For instance, a large scale system won't need the vast number of small inverters that would be required for an equally powered Residential Distribution. I think it's pretty safe to assume that 20% in efficiencies could be found in this situation, so we work out a Installation cost per Watt of $3.85, or $2.6 Billion Dollars off of the cost of the 1364MW Installation, leading to a total cost of $7.9 Billion Dollars.

So, the results of this scenario show that over 50 Years, our 1364W Installation should compare very favorably with Coal. The Total Installation Cost of $7.9 Billion is much lower than the Coal Plant's 50 Year Cost of $13.4 Billion assuming a low low inflation rate of 4%. Is fact, just considering a low 4% Inflation Rate, the Solar Plant breaks even with the Coal Plant at 39 Years. Anything beyond this time is Icing.



A Note on Scale




So far I've been assuming that 1050MW or 1364MW of Solar panels could be even bought on the Open Market. This is a questionable assumption.

According to the Chart on Sheet 5, the total annual installation for 2007 was 2.2 GW. However, as can be seen on the same chart, the rate of increase of installation capacity (limited by production capacity) is taking off, and is expected to increase by Eighteen Hundred Percent, to 37GW Annually, in the next Four Years.

This is when things will start to get interesting, because Utility-scale Developers will for the first time ever, have the opportunity to supply large-scale plants with decreasing lead times, and at the prices that I have talked about in this document, or less.



Conclusion




Well, so far, what I've shown is that there is overlap in the long term price of a Solar Installation and Coal Installations. Much depends on the future rate of Inflation, or at least Inflation in terms of increased Price of Coal. However, given that Future Inflation is not knowable, but in today's World Economic Climate could be explosive, Solar, even at today's high prices, fills a lucrative Energy Niche as a hedge against increasing Coal prices.

As it is, Solar Producers have more than enough Customers to easily sell all the product that they can make at today's prices. Industry Production Capacity is increasing incredibly fast, though, and will likely soon outstrip demand. However, long term Coal Generation costs would indicate that a price bottom for Solar Products will arrive as defined by projections of long-term production costs from Fossil Fuels similar to what I've shown above.

In a future Post I will look at Comparisons between Solar and Natural Gas Electricity Production, which is really a much closer fit to the particular niche that Solar fills, but in this first case I wanted to compare the costs to Coal, which is typically acknowledged as the cheapest current source of Electricity.



Checking my Numbers




Energy Capacity per Ton of Coal:


Is it reasonable to assume that a Coal Plant like Milliken Station actually consumes 876000 Tons of Coal per Year in order to produce its 350MW of Power?

Per Wikipedia, Coal Plants produce approx. 2KW*Hour/KG of Coal.

I want to solve the equation (2KW*Hour/KG)*X Tons of Coal Burned / Year = 350 MW * Year.

I'll convert to Years because because I want the Annual Average to make Comparisons to. As for the Mass, I want Long Tons, which are equal to 1016 KG, and for Power I want Megawatts.

So, X Tons / Year = (350MW * Year)/(2KW*Hour/KG)

Then, X Tons / Year = (350MW * Year)/(2KW*Hour/KG*1MW/1000KW*1Year/8760Hours*1016KG/1Ton)

Finally, X Tons / Year = (350MW * Year)/(.000232MW*Year/Ton) = 1.5 Million Tons of Coal / Year. Wow, this is rather a lot higher than my estimated Coal Fuel Demand for a 350MW Plant, which makes the Solar Plant considerably cheaper in Comparison.

Let's try another estimation. A physicist friend of mine, who works in Coal, estimated for me that a Ton of Thermal Coal, when burned, produces 26 GJ of Energy (Wikipedia has it at 24 GJ/Ton (after some conversions)). Using an Online Converter, 26 GJ works out to 7.22 MW*Hour. Not all of that Energy is converted into Electricity at the Coal Plant, only between 30%-35% is typically converted with a theoretical limit at about 45%.

Using 35% Efficiency would put the Energy / Ton of Coal at 9.1 GJ/Ton, or 2.52 MW*Hour/Ton.

Using the same process as above, for a 350 MW Power Plant, this works out to 1.22 Million Tons of Coal / Year, also higher than my earlier Estimation for Milliken Station.

Let's go one step better for Coal. I've seen reference to 30 GJ per Ton and 42% Conversion Efficiency at a particular plant. I'll work out the Tons of Coal / Year for a 350MW Coal Plant under these Conditions.

30 GJ per Ton = 8.33 MW*Hour/Ton.

At 42% Efficiency in converting this energy to Electricity at a Coal Plant, we get 3.5 MW*Hour/Ton.

Calculating as above, at this incredibly efficient example we come up with Total Tons per Year = (350MW * Year)/(3.5 MW*Hour/Ton*1Year/8760Hours) = 877,000 Tons per Year. This almost exactly matches our estimation for Milliken Station. Nice!



PowerofCoal Data Check:


PowerofCoal Claim: The Average Cost of Production of all US Coal Plants (as of Jan '08) = $23.68 per MW*Hour

In Comparison Three I used this number to calculate a Cost / Watt over 25 Years of $5.18/Watt*25 Years. To do this, I did the following conversion:

Average Cost / Watt*Year = ($23.68/MW*Hour)(1MW/1,000,000W)(365Days/1Year)(24Hours/1Day) = $0.20 / Watt*Year = $5.18 / W*25Years or $10.36 / W*50Years.

Note: These numbers for PowerofCoal.com include all of the cost of production, including presumably, maintenance and upkeep. So, they should be slightly more representative of the actual costs to produce Energy with Coal in the US, however, as shown above, Milliken Station is close to the peak of Efficiency in terms of Energy Output to Coal Consumed, so in order to arrive at a lower average cost than Milliken Station, the average cost of Coal to these US Coal Plants must be much lower than $100 / Ton, or else the cost to produce Coal Energy in the US must be Subsidized. We can see from the Chart that the US does indeed have access to very cheap Coal from Powder River Basin, though from the same Chart we can also see that other Coal Sources are increasing their prices dramatically.

Using the above numbers as a starting place, and then calculating in 4% in Inflation Increases per year, gives $8.63 / W*25Years or $31.63 / W*50Years.



Additional References




Commodity Price Data (Pink Sheets)

PV Costs to Decrease 40% by 2010

China Spurs Coal-Price Surge -WSJ



* Note on World Coal Institute Archives. Based on Archived Reports :

2008 Estimated Reserves: 147 Years
2007 Estimated Reserves: 147 Years
2006 Estimated Reserves: 155 Years
2005 Estimated Reserves: 164 Years
2004 Estimated Reserves: 190 Years
2003 Estimated Reserves: 200 Years
2001 Estimated Reserves: 200 Years

Conclusion, since 2001, we've used 53 Years worth of Coal. LOL!

Future Company.

In about 5-7 years, there will be lots of today's panels being replaced by newer versions. These old panels would still have a tremendous amount of life left in them, and will hold alot of value.

So, you buy some testing equipment (maybe from Spire), and set up a company that takes all of the assorted panels from the various sellers, sorts them all into known units (size and output), and resells them.

Anyway, just a thought. :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tentative Solar Earnings Calendar as of 7/28/08.

SOLAR ER UPATE 7/28

Thanks to betterup of Yahoo for this resource!

A couple points on FSLR.

I have to say, I'm not a fan of FSLR's particular technology, CdTe, because of the whole Tellurium Scarcity problem, as well as the Cadmium toxicity.

As evidence of this, I'll point out a line on their Q2 report.

Under "Liabilities," "Accrued collection and recycling liabilities" are shown as $23.5 Million for the Quarter. This compared to $69.7 Million in Net Income. One of the goals mentioned in the CC, was that they had produced their 500th Megawatt in Q2.

Essentially, the two big problems of CdTe lead to a company that MUST recycle the vast majority of their product for its lifetime. They MUST have that source of Tellurium, and in order to do business in places like Germany they've got to deal with their toxins at the end of a product's life. That could potentially lead to an increasingly expensive infrastructure required to support an increasing number of installations, which will be distributed widely around the planet.

I guess my hope would be that a big chunk of this expenditure is for the set-up of a recycling facility, and is a one time cost. What happens years down the road when FSLR has many GigaWatts of installed capacity?


On a totally unrelated note, it seems that they state in the CC that Conversion efficiency has increased by 10 "basis points," or .1%. I'm sorry, but that's peanuts. When asked about whether their newer facilities were producing more efficient modules, they replied that the 10.7% figure that they had been using was just an average, and that the actual efficiency varied, and they confirmed that 10.7% was the average at all of the facilities.

Based on this, I'd be very curious what kind of mid-term increases they are expecting in Conversion Efficiency, because otherwise it looks to me like they're close to "stalled."

As I've said before, just because I have a hard time believing in the fundamentals of this company, I wouldn't be shorting it unless I was willing to lose alot of money, at least in the short to mid term.

Disclosure, I have no position on First Solar.


Note: For more background on FSLR, See this.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Independent on Shorting.

The Big Question: What is short selling, and is it a practice that should be stamped out? From the Independent. Found by Zbuxster of Yahoo.

"If all goes according to plan, the investor is paying less to buy back the shares than it received for selling them. There are some costs involved, notably that the lender charges a fee for loaning out its shares, but in an ideal world the shorter still makes a tidy profit.

There's a variation on this theme, known as "naked short selling" – a form of shorting where the investor doesn't even bother to borrow the shares it is betting against. This is possible because share deals are often not settled immediately. The seller promises to deliver the stock after a short delay – say three days. If a short seller buys the stock back before it has to make good on the original delivery, no shares need actually change hands."



Here's something that I haven't really seen discussed.

When a short seller borrows shares from someone, they have to pay interest on those shares.

What happens if a Hedgie Naked Shorts? Who do they pay interest to? I think the answer is "nobody." They don't borrow shares, they pay no interest. This means that there is an actual financial incentive to Naked Short as opposed to sell a Covered Short. It's cheaper to Naked Short.

Really, I'd think that logically, even assuming that naked shorting were legal, that the naked shorter should owe interest to the BUYER of that FTD. Really, it could be said that the person that sold the share, but didn't deliver, is actually borrowing a share from the BUYER.

Misdirection and lies from Barrons - Naked Short Selling.

Barrons on SEC and Short Selling.


Here's an article on Short Selling from the Magazine that added gasoline to the Fire brought to LDK by Charlie Situ.

This is the Magazine that implied that LDK was the next Enron; the same Magazine that put their readers deep underwater in a short position against LDK of Gigantic Proportions.


They consistantly merge "Short Selling" with "Naked Short Selling," to confuse the uninformed reader, and to preemptively counter the SEC's new regulations on Naked Short Selling. If you read enough Wall Street Media articles on this issue you'll see the same thing, over and over. Liers, one and all.


Check out the following statement from Barrons: "Short-sellers read Barron's with special interest, and they also make good sources of information that our reporters can check and publish if true." LOL! I must say, it would better for everyone involved if Barrons actually had checked their facts on LDK prior to sending Waves of Short Attackers after the Company. Hell, even after LDK has been cleared of the charges, I've not sen any indication that Barrons has acted to correct the record.

Barrons has no credibility; they are the FOX News of Investment Media.

Their commercial states that the average portfolio of Barrons Readers is 3.2 Million Dollars. I'll be interested in seeing the updated stats when LDK and Chinese Solar squeezes them the hell out.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Common Dreams - Nuclear Regulatory Glitches.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says The Reactor Revival Is NOT Ready For Prime Time

"A devastating blow to the much-hyped revival of atomic power has been delivered by an unlikely source—the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The NRC says the “standardized” designs on which the entire premise of returning nuclear power to center stage is based have massive holes in them, and may not be ready for approval for years to come."


Credit to mgraffis of Yahoo for the find.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Christopher Cox on Naked Shorting and Regulation.

What the SEC Really Did on Short Selling


Excerpts:


"Who profits from intentionally false information in the marketplace? Those who are in on the scam and positioned to benefit from the predictable response of people who believe the fraudulent information to be true.

The classic "pump and dump" scheme, in which a stock is inflated through false information and then dumped on unsuspecting investors when the perpetrators flee, is one example of how this works. "Distort and short" is the same thing in reverse.

"Naked" short selling can turbocharge these "distort and short" schemes. In an ordinary short sale, one borrows a stock and sells it, with the understanding that the loan must be repaid by buying the stock in the market (hopefully at a lower price). But in an abusive naked short transaction, the seller doesn't actually borrow the stock, and fails to deliver it to the buyer. For this reason, naked shorting can allow manipulators to force prices down far lower than would be possible in legitimate short-selling conditions."



"Although the Commission's order was issued under emergency authority in unusual market conditions, it is based on several years of experience and analysis. In 2004, the SEC adopted Regulation SHO to attack the problem of naked shorting. It requires broker-dealers, before they accept short sale orders or effectuate short sales in their own accounts, to first borrow the security to be shorted, or enter into a contract to borrow it.

But Regulation SHO also offers an alternative to these requirements if the broker has "reasonable grounds" to believe that the security can be borrowed. This could create opportunities for evasion of the rule's purpose.

That has led the commission to consider simply eliminating the "reasonable grounds" alternative altogether. This is essentially what the SEC did for the financial firms for which the American taxpayer is now on the line. It is also what the commission is even now considering for the broader market."


---------------


Good stuff. Very hopeful, and Right On in philosophy.

Key Phrase: "Although the Commission's order was issued under emergency authority in unusual market conditions, it is based on several years of experience and analysis."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Yahoo Finance has SOLR page up and running.

No Messageboard yet.

http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=SOLR


I'm thinking that it's a Strong Buy, though it is complicated by its relationship with LDK Solar. See GT Solar, from an LDK Long's Perspective.

Do your own DD, and be prepared for suprises.


Edit: Note to GT Solar Investors.

If you are interested in SOLR, then you need to check out LDK Solar, as they are closely connected. LDK is GT's biggest customer, both in PV Equipment and in Polysilicon Manufacturing Equipment.

Buy and Hold. Do not expect immediate returns. LDK is under continued Short Attack, the rationale for which is based on their future ability to manufacture Polysilicon (using GT Solar's Equipment and Support (see link, above)).

Don't let them shake you out if they drive it down. Look at the Fundamentals and the Growth of this company, and you'll see that it is incredibly cheap. When it breaks, it will break big. They won't announce that moment beforehand, so just sit tight on some shares, preferably in a Cash or 401k Account.

Feel free to ask any questions you might have, and I'll give my take. However, note that your decisions are your own responsibility and your own risk. I'm not a pro, I've just made a particular study of this company and industry for quite some time. Everything I say could be completely and utterly wrong. Do your own DD.

Here's a link to my LDK Tag, which contains about everything I've ever written about LDK.

H.R.3221 - Rumors of Solar Tax-Credit Extension appear to be false.

Ok, this is what I've dug up.

The House version that just passed is the "American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 [H.R.3221.EAH]"

It contains references to Section 864 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

The Senate Version that had been voted on previously is the "Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 (Engrossed Amendment as Agreed to by Senate)[H.R.3221.EAS]"

See http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:H.R.3221:


Both Versions refer to Internal Revenue Code of 1986. The House Version refers to Section 864, which is not what we're looking for. What we're looking for is a reference to Section 48, which is referred to in the Senate Version.


I think that the link posted earlier was the Senate Version.


Reid has said that there will be no changes to the House Version in the Senate.


So, Don't count on anything from Congress.


I've been through so many links and versions, it's not even funny. I can't possibly recreate the exact correct links.


Here's what appears to be the House Version, but I can't guarantee that it's the most recent House Version: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h110-3221


Here's US Code Section 48, which is the relevant code that needs to be extended, but is not in the House Version: http://uscode.house.gov/uscode-cgi/fastweb.exe?getdoc+uscview+t26t28+78+0++%28solar%29%20%20AND%20%28USC%20w%2F10%20%2848%29%29%3ACITE%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20


Freakin' Pussies in Congress. The best thing that could be done would be to help homeowners to pay for products that would add a new kind of value to their ailing properties, and save them money in the long term, also.

GOP Oil Bill

GOP Oil Bill - Full of crap as usual

Monday, July 21, 2008

Yet another IPO - GCL Silicon Technology

Prospectus

http://www.marketwatch.com

http://www.gcl-silicon.com


Direct competitors with LDK, though not nearly so well scaled up in wafers, though ahead in Poly.

They do business with Solarfun, Trina Solar, and JA Solar.

GT Solar, from an LDK Long's Perspective.

What does a GT Solar IPO mean for LDK? Updated 07/23/08.

Well first some basic info.

The ticker will be SOLR, and 30,300,000 shares have been priced at $16.50. The company gets nothing, the money goes to Investors via a Dividend. So, someone is collecting cash; about $500 Million; and the company is left with a $2.3 Billion Market Cap. It would be the largest Solar IPO in the US.

Here's the Prospectus.


Moneycurry (link below) points out the separation of Divisions of the Company, these being the PV Business and the Polysilicon Business.

Per Moneycurry, the PV Business has so far generated all of GT's revenues, with DSS Units generating 86% of '08 Revenues. Ok, that's fine. The PV Business is pretty basic stuff in comparison to the manufacture of Poly.

For the Poly Business, Moneycurry makes the statement "Although company had delivered reactors to one customer but due to its revenue recognition terms, company has yet to generate any revenues from this business segment, but is expected to generate significant revenues from this segment from current year onwards." So, how to interprete this? It seems that what they are saying is that they've made deliveries, but the equipment is not be up and running beyond a predetermined threshold.


The question is, will GT succeed in getting their system up and running for LDK?


Well, this question has been plaguing LDK for some time. At 62% of Sales (See Hoovers, below), LDK is the largest customer of GT Solar, not only for PV Equipment, but for Poly equipment such as CVD Reactors, and Converter Reactors.. The question has been, will LDK be able to produce Poly? Jesse Pichel, of Piper Jaffery, has consistently shed doubt on the possibility of success at LDK, and thus, maintains a sell rating on the Company. So, here we have Piper Jaffery and associates, taking part as Managers in this IPO of GT Solar as if it were a credible company, and yet simultaneously holding a Sell Rating on LDK Solar on the basis that its GT Solar-based Poly Production is at a very high risk of catastrophic failure.


This leaves room for several interpretations.


I'll start with the possibility that Jesse is correct, and LDK will fail either in their TCS Gas production as Mr. Pichel implied during a recent LDK Investor's Conference, or that LDK will fail in implementing a full "closed loop" Polysilicon Production Cycle, as he has implied previously.

In these cases, if Jesse is correct and LDK fails, then GT Solar will be a loser. Whether LDK fails due to TCS production issues* (provided by LXE and CDI), or due to a failure to implement their Closed-Loop Reactor System (provided by GT Solar), GT Solar is in big trouble. Remember, LDK is 62% of GT's Sales. It doesn't matter how LDK might fail, if they do, then SOLR gets hit by a meteor.

And yet, here we have PJC taking part in the IPO of a company which is highly dependent on a Trading Partner which their own Analyst is suggesting will crash and burn. Does PJC think that they are selling shares of a stock that will go up, or down? I'm no Lawyer, but I can't help but think that there might be some legal jeopardy in selling shares in an IPO of a company where prior knowledge of impending failure of that company is had by the seller, particularly if the cause of that failure is due to the known inability of that company (GT Solar, in this case) to successfully fulfill their own contracts for equipment and support.


Of course, I wouldn't believe that an Outstanding Company like Piper Jaffery would take part in any IPO of less than Stellar Quality. LOL!


This brings us to another possibility; that LDK will succeed as planned in implementing their complete solution, from TCS to Poly. In this case, GT Solar, soon to be a Public Company with the responsibilities associated with the Sale of those Public Shares, will have delivered on their agreements with LDK, but also with other Companies with whom they've made similar agreements such as The Silicon Mine B.V. of the Netherlands, and Aziel Holdings Limited of Russia.

It is this case which would support the Integrity and Credibility of Piper Jaffery in their backing of GT Solar, and in their part in this upcoming IPO. It is also the most profitable outcome for everyone involved, as GT Solar is in a sweet spot in the Poly Production Industry. If they succeed, then they will stand nearly alone** in the poly production equipment niche in a rapidly growing Solar Industry. Though there are other companies that have the technology to do what GT is working to do, those companies are typically focused on their own production of Silicon, as opposed to selling equipment to others that would like to.


Only time will tell, of course. The Stakes are high, not only for all the parties directly involved in LDK and GT Solar, but also for all of those parties that are depending on the multiple GigaWatts worth of Solar Wafers that are due to be pouring out of LDK's Factory next year and beyond.



Other Sources of Info:

1. www.moneycurry.com - IPO Review
2. Article - GT Solar hopes sun will come out this week
3. www.hoovers.com
4. www.zachstocks.com
5. Article - Solar technology company opening Houston engineering office



* According to this article by Photon Magazine (sadly, in incomplete form), the key incredient to the production of poly is not in the capacity for TCS production, but is in the Converter Reactor used for the recycling of STC to TCS gas from the output of the CVD Reactor, in which the Silicon Crystal is being grown. It is this critical piece of the Chemical Process that is being provided by GT Solar, and it is GT Solar that is on the hook for the successful implementation of their own equipment.

** Moneycurry does make one error when they claim that GT Solar has no Competitors. In fact, per GT Solar, they do have a competitor by the name of "MSA Apparatus Construction for Chemical Equipment Ltd." Oddly enough, LDK also seems to have a relationship with this company out of Germany, and has been buying up "MSA Reactors" for their 1000MT Poly Plant.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Excellent Article - Indium Nitride

An unexpected discovery could yield a full spectrum solar cell

Links:

http://www.forbes.com/technology/wireless/2008/07/09/solar-power-economics-lead-cx_pldpts_0708mckinsey.html

http://www.solarplaza.com/event/globaldemandconference/lib/downloads/globalpvdemandreport.pdf

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1036513/Even-oilmen-believe-planet-burning-says-Full-Monty-writer-terrifying-TV-drama.html

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Note to Cox - Don't Do It.

"``Without a market-maker exemption, I could see this having a profoundly negative impact on the liquidity that would be provided in stock and derivatives,'' said Steve Sosnick, an equity risk manager in Greenwich, Connecticut, for Timber Hill LLC, one of the largest options market makers in the U.S. "

SEC Poised to Exempt Market-Makers From `Naked-Short' Sale Ban

Yeah, now what is he talking about when he talks about liquidity? He's talking about the fact that if this goes through, there might not actually be enough shares of stock to go around. You know what that means folks? It means that prices go up.

That would be TERRIBLE!! Imagine all of those 401k's with their suddenly more valuable shares of stock. JUST IMAGINE!

EDIT: He did it.

SOL and their Poly Plant.

SOL does not control their poly plant.

http://www.secinfo.com/d14D5a.t3Xa.14.htm

SOL and a company called Linzhou Zhongsheng Steel Co., Ltd to form a joint venture of which SOL controls 49% and Linzhou Steel controls 51%.

Book preview on a Polysilicon Science book.

Link.

Of particular interest is starting at p.57.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

On Activism and the Annoyance of Insurance Salespeople.

I got a call today from our Insurance Company wishing me a happy b'day for later in the month, and wanting to set up a call with one of their guys with me to talk about my financial future.

I had a wicked thought.

I suggested that Sean could give me a call, but I wanted to hear about Insurance info surrounding Solar and Wind Installs. Oh, well, apparently Sean is more of a "Finance and Investing" guy, but Ashley will call me about that. So, I continued that in that case, I'd like Sean to call me prepared to talk about Green Investing.

LOL!

They will all think I'm crazy, but that's OK. They'll learn something about Green before the call, and they'll learn more after. I'll learn too, so that's great!


This one was random, but I've had an Idea for some time to go to my Credit Union and talk to them about programs that they have or would develop for Green Lending. For you folks that want to "Activate," there's an idea for you. Put pressure on your Banks and Financial Services to develop programs to support Individual Purchases of Greentech, etc. There are alot of possibilities for programs that they might not have thought of, but that very well might make them solid and secure profits long-term. Ask them about what programs they've got, and if they've got none, ask them what they're going to do about it. Remember, Home Energy Solutions have real long term value. They're relatively safe loans, so it's very much in your bank's best interest to get a piece of that market.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bloomberg TV - It's Awesome - In Case you didn't know.

The European Market Countdown is excellent. It's often an outsider's view of the US Markets and how they're affecting the World Markets.

There's one fellow in particular, Roger Nightingale, that if you catch in Interview, you gotta stop and watch. I've heard him twice now suggest that some US Bankers need to be put in jail. That kind of honesty is worth pausing for.

I want one of these.

ground-source heat pump

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Pickens Plan Main Page.

The Pickens Plan Main Page.

There are videos, discussion groups, etc. He's obviously trying to build up a heck of a network to support his plan.

Pickens Before Congress - Video.


The most important part of The Pickens Plan for Solar, is that he ties the VALUE of Solar Directly to the value of Natural Gas and Oil for use as Transportation Fuel.

No longer can anyone use the argument that Solar doesn't run their car. Under the Pickens Plan, Solar (and Wind) are used to offset Natural Gas, which can be used to run a Car, which, if used in this way, directly offsets the use of Oil, which would ordinarily have been used to fuel that vehicle.

We're directly tied into Transportation Fuel now.

Petrobras Oil Workers Strike.

Petrobras Oil Workers Strike; Production Cut Expected

Brazil's Oil Workers Confederation began a five-day strike against Petroleo Brasileiro SA, the country's state-controlled oil company, an action that may cut Brazilian daily oil output by more than half.

The Bakken formation - Bloomberg

Dakota Oil Fields of Saudi-Sized Reserves Make Farmers Drillers

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Peak Coal.

Peak coal: sooner than you think

"Looking to the future, many analysts who are concerned about emerging supply constraints for oil and gas foresee a compensating shift to lower-quality fuels. Coal can be converted to a gaseous or liquid fuel, and coal gasification and coal-to-liquids plants are being constructed at record rates.

This expanded use of coal is worrisome to advocates of policies to protect the global climate, some of whom place great hopes in new (mostly untested) technologies to capture and sequester carbon from coal gasification. With or without such technologies, there will almost certainly be more coal in our near future.

According to the widely accepted view, at current production levels proven coal reserves will last 155 years (this according to the World Coal Institute). The US Department of Energy (USDoE) projects annual global coal consumption to grow 2.5 per cent a year through 2030, by which time world consumption will be nearly double that of today."

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The man with the plan - T Boone Pickens.

Pickens wants more emphasis on alternative energy

'"I don't have any profit motive in this. I'm doing it for America, that's my point," he said in the meeting with the AP.'



YES! This is a man on a mission. He's 80 years old, and he's going to "save the day."

You can bet that many will follow him as he's setting the course. Some of these followers will be in Oil. They'll have to transform their thinking, and their investing.

Pickens has a focus on Wind, but he also mentioned Solar on CNBC.

He's the man with the plan.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

While looking for some Clean Coal Facts...

I ran across this page by World Nuclear Association.

Coal is an extremely important fuel and will remain so. Some 23% of primary energy needs are met by coal and 39% of electricity is generated from coal. About 70% of world steel production depends on coal feedstock. Coal is the world's most abundant and widely distributed fossil fuel source. The International Energy Agency expects a 43% increase in its use from 2000 to 2020.

(Bold Mine)


There's one more reason why Coal isn't the best option. As we're burning coal in an incredible frenzy, and as the price goes up in response, inflationary forces result from both the increased cost of the Energy Produced, but also by the increased cost of steel, which is the basis for so many critical products in the Economy. Increasing prices of Silicon, on the other hand, should have a weaker impact on critical goods, which has pretty much been demonstrated by the increase in silicon prices over the last few years as compared to the relative lack of increase in price of silicon-based computing products.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Outrage by the Bureau of Land Management.

Citing Need for Assessments, U.S. Freezes Solar Energy Projects (1)

Faced with a surge in the number of proposed solar power plants, the federal government has placed a moratorium on new solar projects on public land until it studies their environmental impact, which is expected to take about two years.

------


Ok, so, it's a given that Environmental assessments MUST take place in determining the uses of Public Land, but a MORATORIUM on Solar Installations on all Public Land is so irrational, that it can only be an intentional act of disruption, or suppression.

Per (1), the current Applications amount to One Million Acres of land. However, BLM oversees 260 Million Acres in total, of which 44,479,478 acres are under lease, and 11,629,625 acres are in production4. According to the Telegraph, BLM makes the claim that they will continue to process the existing Applications, which amount to a potential 70GW of production, or enough energy to power 20 million homes5.

Even Bush's own Executive Order 132123 should be read to require that these projects be expedited.


There is no valid rationale for a two year moratorium on Solar Development on Public Land; certainly not when it is already acknowledged that Energy Development is a fair use of that public land.

It's an outrage.

2. More Info on BLM and Energy Leases - Washington Post.

3. Executive Order 13212.

4. Analysis of BLM’s Oil and Gas Development 2001-2007.

5. US halts solar energy projects over environment fears - Telegraph.

Thanks to McOgon of Google, and peak_oil_101 of Yahoo for Links.

EDIT: Here's a CNN Special Report on this Story.

Congresspeople looking into Fed / SEC Securities Deal.

Dodd, Shelby Warn Fed, SEC on Rushing Securities Deal - Bloomberg

The SEC plans to provide information on securities firms' trading positions, capital and leverage, two government officials said on condition of anonymity.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Time Magazine Article - Thin Film - Global Solar, FIrst Solar, NanoSolar.

Solar Power's New Style.

"Mike Gering, CEO of the start-up Global Solar, picks his way along his factory floor, tracing the convoluted path that his thin-film solar panels follow from birth to shipping truck. The raw materials the workers carry are ultra-thin sheets of flexible plastic, which are then coated with a series of chemicals--indium, gallium, diselenide--that allows the module to turn sunlight into electricity."


The article goes on to touch on First Solar, and NanoSolar. It's a little brief on Thin Film basics.

Editorial - Rep Ed Markey, MA - Bush Helping Saudi Arabia Build Nukes.

Why Is Bush Helping Saudi Arabia Build Nukes?

"Last month, while the American people were becoming the personal ATMs of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was in Saudi Arabia signing away an even more valuable gift: nuclear technology. In a ceremony little-noticed in this country, Ms. Rice volunteered the U.S. to assist Saudi Arabia in developing nuclear reactors, training nuclear engineers, and constructing nuclear infrastructure. While oil breaks records at $130 per barrel or more, the American consumer is footing the bill for Saudi Arabia's nuclear ambitions."

Article by Rep. Edward J. Markey.

I've seen this guy debating Energy on CSpan, he's top-notch.

Need I say, I support the Impeachment of Bush and Cheney. They are incredibly dangerous, and need to be stripped of power.

Friday, June 6, 2008

News from China on Best Energy and Xiaofeng Peng.

Here's the original, and here's the translated version.

Kudos to dnltsp of Yahoo for the find!


Among other things, this article answers the question of timing.

"Tak Bai Shi said: "As the most advanced technology and equipment will be put into operation before the end of this year, the project will be divided into five construction, the end of 2009 is expected to achieve 1,000-megawatt capacity."

So, by the end of next year the Sunfabs are to be up and running.