This Week in Solar

The solar industry is through earnings season, and there were winners and losers, but overall, the industry is looking very strong. Let's review the highlights for this week in solar, including some important stats to keep in mind when looking at solar growth as a whole.

U.S. solar continues strong momentum
The Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research released the U.S. Solar Market Insight: 2nd Quarter 2013 report this week. Among the highlights: 

  • The U.S. installed 832 MW of solar in Q2, 15% more than the first quarter.
  • Residential solar installations grew 48% year over year.
  • The average PV system price is down 40% since the start of 2011 and 50% since the beginning of 2010.
  • North Carolina was a highflier, growing installations by 68% in Q2.

I'll be covering more data from this report in the weeks to come, but in the meantime, you can download the executive summary of this report or buy the whole thing by clicking here.

Capitalizing on that growth this week was SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY  ) , which announced another $124 million in financing from Direct Energy. The money will be used to finance projects for commercial and industrial customers and shows some of the value utilities are now beginning to see in solar investments.  

Suntech and LDK continue downward spiral
Two weeks ago, Suntech Power (NASDAQOTH: STPFQ  ) said it had reached an "understanding" with its stakeholders and planned to announce a recapitalization plan "in the next week or so." On Friday, the company announced that the CEO had stepped down and will be replaced by Zhou Weiping.

The longer Suntech's restructuring takes, the less likely the company will return to market as a viable manufacturer. Buyers of solar panels are starting to put more and more value on a company's quality and balance sheet, neither of which a long restructuring process is helping. I don't doubt that Suntech will be back in some form, but shareholders probably won't come out of this with much after debtholders take control of the company.  

Speaking of bad balance sheets, LDK Solar's (NASDAQOTH: LDKSY  ) $2.8 billion in debt is drowning an already struggling company, and this week it hired an investment bank to look at alternatives. Jefferies has been hired as an advisor and will provide "strategic advice in connection with LDK Solar's offshore debt obligations." LDK has already missed multiple bond payments this year, which would trigger bankruptcy in the U.S., but as a Chinese company it's anyone's guess whether the government will allow this company to go bankrupt or throw it another lifeline.  

News and notes
Here were some of the other noteworthy items going on in solar this week.

  • SunEdison (NYSE: SUNE  ) announced the price of its semiconductor business spinoff. The company will sell 30 million shares at $7.25 and have given the underwriters the option to purchase another 4.5 million shares. That will add $250 million to the company's balance sheet, which it will probably use to expand its solar systems business.  
  • ReneSola (NYSE: SOL  ) also priced a $70 million offering at $4.67 per American depositary share. Investors got a 35% warrant coverage, with an exercise price of $6.04 per ADS. This was a dilutive offering, especially with the warrants, and the stock dropped after the news was released this week.
  • JA Solar announced that it will supply 96 MW of modules to projects in Qinghai Province, China. The projects are 320 MW and 200 MW, so JA Solar didn't win the entire project, but it's a big win nonetheless.  

That's all for this week in solar. Check back for more solar coverage on fool.com.

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