This Week in Solar

Earnings season is over for solar manufacturers, and that means it's back to work making deals and expanding their reach. Here are a few of the notable developments in the industry this week.

Deals of the week
First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR  ) signed the largest PV module supply agreement in India's history this week to power a 100 MW solar power project near Mumbai. Reliance Power is building the project, and First Solar expects to deliver 40 MW in 2011 with the remainder delivered in 2012.

India is expected to join China and the U.S. as countries the solar industry hopes will drive demand in coming years.

Yingli Green Energy (NYSE: YGE  ) announced it is the presenting sponsor of Solarthon, a fundraiser for nonprofit solar installer GRID Alternatives. The company will provide solar panels for 50 low-income families in California at five separate "block parties." Driving awareness and training is a major part of the industry's responsibility right now, and this should be a great project for Yingli.

MEMC Electronic Materials (NYSE: WFR  ) completed its purchase of Fotowatio Renewable Ventures, expanding its portfolio of solar projects to 1.4 GW. That gives MEMC one of the largest portfolios of solar developments in the solar industry.

The Chinese solar powerhouse
It looks like the U.S. and China will both be passing 1 GW of solar installed annually in 2011. But China is making a more calculated investment in solar, and Greentech Media expects installations to be 4 GW by 2015.

Suntech Power (NYSE: STP  ) alone has 200 MW of projects in its Chinese pipeline, and other manufacturers are expecting demand to increase as well. LDK Solar (NYSE: LDK  ) , JA Solar (Nasdaq: JASO  ) , and Trina Solar (NYSE: TSL  ) are expecting that increased demand will help improve module, cell, and wafer pricing, which led to disappointing earnings in the second quarter.

 What you didn't hear from Obama last night
In last night's jobs speech, President Obama mentioned the words "green," "solar," and "renewable" a combined zero times. Earlier this week, fellow Fool David Lee Smith and I went back and forth on whether "green" jobs should be a focus in the speech, and I definitely ended up getting the short end of the stick. Here's to hoping the cardiac paddles weren't as necessary as Mr. Smith insinuated when the president glossed over everything green.

But this is a major blow for solar manufacturers. As I pointed out last week, solar is one of the few bright spots in the economy, and I can't help but feel we've missed an opportunity to make it brighter. With the federal government unable to come up with a coherent solar power plan, manufacturers are going to have to rely on individual states to set the rules.

China, India, Japan, and Germany all have some sort of plan for solar power expansion. What is ours?

Interested in reading more about solar manufacturers? Add your favorites to My Watchlist, which will find all of our Foolish analysis on those stocks.

Fool contributor Travis Hoium owns shares of First Solar. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings, or follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw.

The Motley Fool owns shares of First Solar. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of First Solar. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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