Friday, June 15, 2007

Check on China: Surging solar

News & Analysis - New Energy Source

(, June 12, 2007) China's solar energy industry is growing, but not everyone will profit. In fact, there will be many losers, most likely the late entrants and smaller players.

For sure, the country's photovoltaic (PV) sector is booming, with the industry now the world's third largest producer of solar-energy technology. Production capacity of the PV cells (the plates that absorb the sun's rays and convert them to electricity) in 2005 rose almost 375%, to 250 MW, from 52.8 MW in 2004, while production capacity of modules¡ªthe panels comprised of the PV cells¡ªgrew 350%, to 400 MW, from 88.8 MW.

International demand for the clean-energy technology, fueled in large part by higher gasoline prices, has resulted in annual growth of around 15%. Some analysts predict that the sector could generate global revenues of up to $40 billion by 2010. China, with its low-cost manufacturing advantages, could seize up to one-forth of the bounty and become the world's number one producer by the end of the decade. The country itself is projected to increase its install PV-electricity production capacity up to 0.3 GW in 2010 and 1.8 GW in 2020.

Such bright prospects have led to an investment frenzy on Chinese solar stocks. The leader of the pack is Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. (NYSE: STP), the country's largest PV manufacturer whose IPO listing on the New York Stock Exchange in December 2005 was the largest for the year for a technology company. Smaller cap companies include Trina Solar Limited (NYSE: TSL), Canadian Solar Inc. (Nasdaq: CSIQ) Solarfun Power Holdings Co. Ltd. (Nasdaq: SOLF), and China Sunergy Co. Ltd. (Nasdaq: CSUN). The newest to join the crowd is LDK Solar Co. Ltd. (NYSE: LDK), which had its IPO on June 1.

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