U.S. Alternative Energy Correspondent
Nichola's Feed
Dec 5, 2011

Analysis – Solar companies to seek deep pockets in downturn

By Matt Daily and Nichola Groom

(Reuters) – Struggling solar manufacturers will likely be driven into mergers with rivals to survive a sector squeeze, a trend that could draw major Asian conglomerates deeper into the renewable energy sector.

Solar makers have seen their profit margins nearly erased this year as prices for renewable energy systems plummeted by about 40 percent and industry experts say many companies are too small to withstand the downturn on their own.

Dec 3, 2011

California electric car startup Aptera shuts down

By Nichola Groom

(Reuters) – Aptera, the California startup best known for developing a space age-looking, three-wheeled car, has closed its doors after failing to raise the funds needed to put its ultra-efficient vehicles on the road.

The company had received a conditional offer for a $150 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy, but failed to secure the $80 million in private investment needed to close that financing, Chief Executive Paul Wilbur said on Friday.

Nov 17, 2011

Corrected: Fisker chairman backs 2012 vehicle goal

/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Fisker Automotive is on track to meet production goals for its electric sports cars in 2012 despite production delays that have sharply reduced the start-up carmaker’s projected deliveries this year.

Production of Fisker’s first vehicle, the plug-in hybrid Karma, was held up by faulty electrical harnesses and headlights, topped off by a flood that damaged the leather for its interior, according to Chairman Ray Lane.

Nov 15, 2011

Exclusive: Fisker chairman backs 2012 vehicle production goal

/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Fisker Automotive is on track to produce 15,000 of its electric sports cars in 2012 despite production delays that have sharply reduced the start-up carmaker’s projected deliveries this year.

Production of Fisker’s first vehicle, the plug-in hybrid Karma, was held up by faulty electrical harnesses and headlights, topped off by a flood that damaged the leather for its interior, according to Chairman Ray Lane.

Nov 3, 2011

SunPower drums up savings, First Solar ices plant

Nov 3 (Reuters) – SunPower Corp outlined a
restructuring plan to trim operating costs by up to 10 percent
in 2012 and said it saw a pickup in demand across European
markets such as Germany, sending its shares up 11 percent.

Sunpower, which like the rest of the industry was hit hard
when top markets Germany and Italy pared generous incentives
for solar power this year, on Thursday trimmed both revenue and
profit forecasts for fiscal 2011.

Nov 3, 2011

Short sellers still see green in battered solar sector

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Short sellers who banked on a fall in the price of solar stocks this year pocketed big returns and are already positioning themselves for another go at the battered sector.

Shorts had a field day this year as an oversupply of solar panels sent shares plummeting by more than half and prices for the panels slumped 35 percent. The profits of panel makers such as First Solar Inc (FSLR.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd (STP.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and others all fell sharply.

Nov 2, 2011

Analysis: Shorts still see green in battered solar sector

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Short sellers who banked on a fall in the price of solar stocks this year have pocketed big returns as an oversupply of panels sent shares plummeting by more than half, but don’t expect them to get out of the battered sector any time soon.

Shorts have had a field day this year as prices on solar panels slumped 35 percent, dragging profits and share prices for panel makers like First Solar Inc, Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd and others down sharply.

Oct 27, 2011

U.S. refines plans for Western solar energy zones

By Nichola Groom

(Reuters) – U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Thursday outlined new proposed guidelines for siting solar energy developments on public lands, reducing the number of acres deemed best suited for such projects but offering companies incentives to place their power plants there.

The plan’s aim is to concentrate development of solar projects in sunny, flat areas near transmission lines but with minimal threats to wildlife and cultural resources.

Oct 25, 2011

First Solar ousts CEO, shares dive 24 percent

By Nichola Groom

(Reuters) – First Solar Inc’s board of directors ousted the solar company’s chief executive, Rob Gillette, replacing him on an interim basis with Chairman Mike Ahearn while it searches for a permanent replacement.

Shares in the world’s most valuable solar company plummeted more than 24 percent to $43.71 — its lowest level since March of 2007 — following the unexpected Tuesday announcement.

Oct 24, 2011

Special Report: Synged by Solyndra

LOS ANGELES/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – David Prend is one of the most respected investors in green technology – but even he picks some losers.

Like the Department of Energy, Prend thought Solyndra, an innovative solar company, was a good bet. His venture capital firm, RockPort Capital, began investing in the company three years before the federal government gave the start-up a loan guarantee. RockPort eventually put more than $63.5 million into Solyndra.