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from Breakingviews:

Suntech casts shadow over China capital raisings

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By John Foley 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Suntech has gone from solar panel maker to financial black hole. The stricken company is fighting with creditors who want to see it liquidated after it defaulted on interest payments in March. Proposals to sell assets and take Chinese government cash seem unlikely to help investors avoid huge losses. For investors it’s a lesson in what happens when things really go wrong with Chinese companies.

Holders of Suntech’s bonds are owed $541 million. But local lenders, which have extended $1.7 billion or so, are first in line. Suntech’s bankrupt Chinese subsidiary has agreed to sell most of its assets to a Hong Kong-listed solar panel maker for $490 million, but it’s unlikely any of that cash will reach bondholders of the overseas holding company. Liquidation offers closure, but it could yield mere pennies.

 Graphic: Dark times for Suntech investors

Suntech’s creditors are now left at the mercy of politicians in China - rarely a good place to be. A local state-owned vehicle, Wuxi Guolian, is offering $150 million of cash to recapitalise the U.S. listed vehicle, plus some unspecified assets, likely to mean bits of other local solar manufacturers. In return, bondholders would get equity, but it’s hardly attractive. The bonds’ current market value of 21 cents to the dollar may be as good as it gets.

from MuniLand:

Financing more solar energy

Most discussion of solar energy in the U.S. is focused on the large, centralized photovoltaic installations that are going up in the sunny parts of the country. But there is another rapidly growing area in site-based residential or commercial solar installations. Traditionally these small installations have been hard to finance, but there are some powerful new mechanisms that may accelerate growth.

One new approach follows the mortgage origination process where bundles of small financings are gathered and then pooled into securitizations. Standard & Poor’s Director of Utilities, Trevor D’Olier-Lees, projects that the cost of residential installations on a million homes would be about $16 billion. 45 million suitable homes could use $750 billion to equip them with solar power. D’Olier-Lees says that banks are not the best providers of these long-term financing assets, but the loans would make ideal securitization vehicles. Some companies are starting to work on these structures. From Green Tech Media:

from Breakingviews:

Europe rightly throws shade on solar tariffs plan

By John Foley

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own)

European opposition to tariffs on Chinese solar panels sounds like turkeys voting for Christmas. After all, China has used cheap state financing to lower the cost of making solar equipment - and European companies like Germany’s Solar World have borne the brunt. Yet the reluctance of most EU member states to back proposals for a punitive tariff is smart. In a world of cross-border supply chains, Europe has too much to lose by pushing the point.

from Breakingviews:

ABB takes a shine to solar

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By Quentin Webb

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

ABB’s contrarian push into solar energy looks smart. The Swiss group is buying Nasdaq-listed Power-One for $1 billion in cash - a fully priced deal, given the solar industry’s current financial misery. But ABB insists Power-One occupies a sweet spot. That sounds plausible, and long term, the deal should add up.

from Breakingviews:

Exposed bondholders suffer solar burns in China

By John Foley

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own)

Who wants equity-like risk for a debt-like return? Investors in bust Chinese solar panel maker Suntech got something close when they bought $575 million of convertible bonds back in 2008. Even though the bonds remain unconverted, the company’s bankruptcy could leave them with pennies - little better off than regular shareholders. Yet the lessons appear to be going unheeded.

from Breakingviews:

China’s solar bonds leave dim hope of payback

By John Foley

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Dim prospects for payback await bondholders in China’s Suntech Power Holdings. The stricken solar panel maker, unlikely to meet a $541 million bond payment due on March 15, has persuaded over half its foreign creditors to hold off for two months. On purely financial grounds, it’s hard to see how the bondholders could come away with anything in the event of a default. What value remains is a bet that China values foreign investors too much to snub them outright.

from MuniLand:

Obama goes long renewable energy

President Obama is putting some wind in the sails of the transformation of solar energy to an industrial scale. Lost in the pre-election frenzy in July was this announcement:

The Obama administration announced a plan on Tuesday to open public land in six southwestern states to speed up the development of solar energy, while blocking projects in areas deemed environmentally sensitive.

from Breakingviews:

Goldman renewable energy dash more than greenwash

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By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Goldman Sachs is making a dash to invest in renewable energy projects. It says it will invest $40 billion of its own and clients’ money over a decade. The Wall Street firm isn’t above self-serving spin, but it’s also never far from the money. With solar and wind power nearing cost levels that are competitive with fossil fuels, clean energy could burnish Goldman’s bottom line as well as its green credentials.

from Environment Forum:

Federal purse reopens for solar science

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The U.S. Department of Energy announced this week $60 million in funding for scientists to develop "revolutionary research" to lower the cost of solar power systems.

The DOE SunShot Initiative is baiting researchers to increase efficiency of commercial solar power (CSP) systems and lower costs to six cents per kilowatt hour by the end of the decade. 

from MediaFile:

Andrew Chung heads to Khosla Ventures

Lightspeed Venture Partners' Andrew Chung is heading to Khosla Ventures, where he will focus on the cleantech and information-technology. At Lightspeed, he oversaw investments in biofuel company Solazyme, solar company Stion, and clean coal company Coaltek, among others. Chung will help fill the shoes of cleantech partners Jim Kim and Alex Kinnier, who left Khosla last month.

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