I recall a conversation with someone from a Chinese energy companies last year. She told me in terms of the energy market, China is hoping for cheaper ways of producing solar panel and foreign investments to help with efficient production. China intents to market whatever they can get their hands on to its urban consumers. Given the size of their market, anyone who can perfect the lowest cost technology with the highest efficiency will have the weight and advantage to invest in China. Given Chinese energy companies are state owned, anyone who has the potential to invest in this sector will get the green light from the State and will no doubt dominate the stock market in the years to come.
Market watch: First Solar Inc announced yesterday that it’s cadmium telluride solar technology achieved a world record of 17.3% efficiency. This means the panel is capable of capturing and converting 17.3% of the sunlight into electricity. Cadmium is cheaper to produce than the current preferred silicon-based material. The silicon-based panels achieve an efficiency ranging near the low 20%.
While I think it’s a bit of stretch to say First Solar is the company to watch for investment opportunities in China, it doesn’t hurt to watch them carefully and see if they can improve the efficiency standard and lower the cost to the point where China will want to play. If that should be the case, investing in their stocks will be a smart choice. Until then, keep an eye out for GE as well. GE recently announced 12.8% efficiency in April. At that time, GE had the lowest cost technology with the highest efficiency confirmed by the DOE’s NREL.
First Solar, Inc. (First Solar) manufactures and sells solar modules with an advanced thin-film semiconductor technology. First Solar designs, constructs, and sells photovoltaic (PV) solar power systems. It operates the business in two segments: components segment and systems segment. Its components segment is its principal business and involves the design, manufacture, and sale of solar modules, which convert sunlight into electricity. Customers of its components segment include project developers, system integrators, and operators of renewable energy projects. In January 2011, the Company and RayTracker, Inc. announced that First Solar, Inc. has acquired RayTracker, Inc. In January 2010, the Company completed the acquisition of certain assets from Edison Mission Group's solar project development pipeline consisting of utility-scale solar projects located primarily on private land in California and the southwestern United States.
Click here to see a comparison between First Solar and GE's stock pricing.