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Before we get to this week's solar news, let me sneak in a biggie from last Friday. Solyndra, one of the more high-profile CIGS thin-film startups, landed a huge $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. This loan program has been on the books for several years, but Solyndra is the first to see any support. Secretary Chu and others in the new administration are clearly serious about speeding along such funding, and they should be applauded for ripping away the red tape.
That brings us to Tuesday, which saw Siemens snag a stake in a solar power plant specialist. Over a year ago we learned that United Technologies (NYSE: UTX ) was looking at commercializing a technology that uses molten salt as a heat transfer mechanism in conjunction with concentrating solar power technology. Well, Siemens' target, Archimede Solar Energy, already produces this sort of solar receiver. The investment positions Siemens, already the market leader in steam-turbine generators for solar thermal, for an even more prominent position in this market.
On Wednesday, rumors swirled that beaten-down wafer-maker MEMC Electronic Materials (NYSE: WFR ) had been approached by BASF. Also, Solarfun Power (Nasdaq: SOLF ) reported results that rounded out a dismal fourth quarter for the entire sector. I suggested that Fools skip the second-rate player.
The day my article ran, however, solar stocks of all stripes experienced a supernova when China announced a generous new subsidy. This was sensible enough in the case of hometown heroes like Suntech Power (NYSE: STP ) and LDK Solar (NYSE: LDK ) -- especially considering the short interest on stocks like Trina Solar (NYSE: TSL ) -- but even businesses with zero connection to the Chinese market got bid higher!
Rounding out the week was a release by Suntech Power highlighting the efficiency achievements of its Pluto cell technology, and an announcement by Yingli Green Energy (NYSE: YGE ) that the firm may firm up its longer-term financing through a branch of the Bank of China. The shift away from short-term bank loans is something I believe all solar investors should keep an eye on, and Yingli has impressed me on this front.