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.