Last week, President Trump said he would pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, which would seem to be a huge negative for the solar industry -- and it might have been, had it happened a few years ago.
But as it is, there was hardly a reaction at all from the industry. That's because solar is now competitive on an economic basis, and the political reaction by cities and states across the country was a quick backlash to leaving the Paris accord. Here's more information on some state policy and some other notable news items for the week.
Nevada's dramatic return to solar
In late 2015, Nevada sent shockwaves through the solar industry when it ended net metering, effectively killing the rooftop solar industry in the state. Vivint Solar (NYSE:VSLR), Sunrun (NASDAQ:RUN), and Tesla's (NASDAQ:TSLA) SolarCity all pulled out of the state almost immediately because their installations were no longer economical.
This week, the state's legislature passed a bill that would pay solar owners 95% of their retail rate for electricity exported to the grid, with a gradual step-down to 75%. Vivint, Sunrun, and Tesla have all said they will resume operations in the state, and suddenly this is becoming the hottest residential solar market. And once again, the solar industry has won a policy battle with a state that was once hostile to solar companies.
NEXTracker's big news
There's a lot of competition for the Indian market today because the country hopes to install 100 GW of solar by 2022. But Flex Ltd. (NASDAQ:FLEX) subsidiary NEXTracker has a big head start in supplying the market, announcing this week that it has 1 GW of solar tracker sales in India already.
Furthermore, CEO Dan Shugar said he's moving forward with flow batteries to attach to trackers to further add value for customers. NEXTracker has an interesting business model because it's a component supplier that competes with many more vertically integrated players, but right now, it has the world's leading market share in trackers and isn't giving up that title easily.
Trump's solar wall?
President Donald Trump still wants to build a wall on the Mexico border, and according to Axios.com, he has floated the idea of covering the wall with solar panels that could be used to cover the cost. It's an idea that was suggested by SunEdison founder Jigar Shah (as something of a joke), but Trump is apparently serious about it. At an estimated 5 GW of solar capacity, it could be a big source of demand if the solar wall is ever built.
News and notes
Here are a few more notable items from the week in solar.
- It seems like every week, there's a new solar bankruptcy. This week, the culprit is American Solar Direct. The small company filed for Chapter 7, and we now have one fewer competitor in the residential solar market.
- First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) secured a loan in Japan through the Mizuho Bank for utility-scale projects in the country. The $64 million facility will be used to develop projects, although First Solar will likely sell them before construction actually begins.
- SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) announced this week that it has built 6.9 MW of solar power systems that will provide energy to 10 schools in Massachusetts. 2.8 MW will be carports at Stonehill College and 4.1 MW will be Helix rooftop commercial solar systems.
- JA Solar (NASDAQ:JASO) announced that it's received a revised nonbinding offer to buy the company for $6.80 per ADS in cash. CEO Baofang Jin is leading the offer, but since it's nonbinding, there's a lot of uncertainty as to whether the deal is financed or will ever close.
That's all for this week in solar. Check back to fool.com for more solar coverage.