Things move fast in the world of solar power, and it's hard for investors to keep up with all the twists and turns. For that reason, I've decided to put together a weekly rundown of some of the biggest news in the space. So, sun-drenched Fools, please let me know if this is a useful format, and what sorts of developments are most of interest to you.
Monday kicked things off with a major bit of M&A. We haven't seen too many large acquisitions lately, so German conglomerate Bosch's bid for a majority interest in ersol Solar Energy, at around $860 million, certainly sticks out. Bosch was recently tipped as a potential bidder in GE's (NYSE: GE ) appliance auction, so the firm may seem out of place in solar. Bosch is already active in the solar water heater business, however, so expanding further into solar isn't much of a stretch.
Speaking of GE, the head of its energy division said on Monday that the firm expects its solar business to grow to more than $1 billion in sales over the next few years. That's small change compared to GE's projected 2008 wind power revenue of $6 billion or so, but the ramp-up of that business shows just how serious GE can get when it decides to "put the pedal to the accelerator." First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR ) , take note.
On Tuesday, Hemlock Semiconductor (whose backers include Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW ) and Corning (NYSE: GLW ) ) opened up a new polysilicon facility. The firm, which is already tops in global silicon production, is roughly doubling its production this year. This massive supply increase has allowed the firm to sign long-term supply deals with the likes of SunPower (Nasdaq: SPWR ) . Hemlock is certainly doing its part to usher in an end to the silicon squeeze.
Finally, Wednesday saw two notable developments in the more frontier areas of solar innovation. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) licensed some technology to a solar start-up that aims to slash the cost of generating power using concentrating photovoltaic solar arrays. Meanwhile, Google-backed (Nasdaq: GOOG ) eSolar landed a large deal with Southern California Edison to supply nearly 250 megawatts of solar thermal-generated power. You can read more about eSolar's steamy technology.