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This Week in Solar

Well, it's been a pretty rough week for the broader market, and solar stocks like Yingli Green Energy (NYSE: YGE  ) and Trina Solar (NYSE: TSL  ) have dimmed in the eyes of panicky investors. Let's check out the week's news and see if there's a sunny side to things.

There was indeed a smattering of positive press. One item is that Japan has supposedly begun to reconsider its stance on subsidies. The phase-out of state support for solar has knocked Sharp off its production pedestal. The electronics outfit is now running behind Germany's Q-Cells in terms of solar cell output, though still comfortably in the top three, along with Suntech Power (NYSE: STP  ) .

There was also a bullish projection issued by market watcher iSuppli, which called for 12 gigawatts of photovoltaic cell production by 2010. Beyond that we have the ramp-up of Energy Conversion Devices' (Nasdaq: ENER  ) Uni-Solar subsidiary to hit gigawatt scale in the 2012 timeframe, just in time for grid parity. Yep, iSuppli is calling for solar to be competitive in sunny locales by 2012 and in medium-sunny spots in 2018.

In my eyes, though, the top story is the Bureau of Land Management's decision to place a moratorium on applications for new solar power plant installations on public land in six western states. Even though this decision came weeks ago, it's just now hitting my desk. I regret not catching this sooner.

I'm not the only one to get blind-sided here. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid expressed his dismay in a press release last week, and he is certainly feeling the heat: The BLM controls around two-thirds of Nevada's land. Other sunny states affected include California and New Mexico.

Now, I don't want to diminish the importance of land reclamation, water use, or the well-being of the Mojave ground squirrel. OK, scratch that last one. But I have to say that this seems like a uniquely bad time to throw the brakes on our nascent domestic solar industry.

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Fool contributor Toby Shute doesn't have a position in any company mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 27, 2008, at 7:31 PM, hkramer48 wrote:

    I follow solar closely and have not heard about this. I am absolutely shocked. We need a new government -soon.

  • Report this Comment On June 27, 2008, at 9:24 PM, Ganndalf wrote:

    Hmmm...I love the natural beauty of BLM land in America. While I'm a solar investor, I'm all for protecting BLM land, within rational boundaries.

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