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This Week in Solar

By Travis Hoium - Jul 28, 2017 at 8:05PM

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Earnings season began this week, but there's a lot more than earnings going on in the solar industry right now.

Earnings season finally started this week in the solar industry, and it started with a bang. First Solar (FSLR -1.20%) absolutely crushed estimates and confirmed that solar module demand is high, prices are rising, and the value of the projects it has built are up as well. I've covered First Solar's report in depth here, but the quick takeaway is that strong results should be a good sign for solar stocks overall

Outside of earnings, there were still some big developments this week in solar. 

Rooftop solar panels on a Spanish-style home, with a woman and child sitting on a patio sofa outside.

Image source: SunPower.

China's solar boom continues

China's National Energy Administration released data this week that shows 37 GW of solar was installed in the country in the first half of the year. And solar energy generation jumped 75% versus a year ago to 51,800 GWh. 

The boom in solar is also expected to continue in China for the next few years. Guidance for solar installations is 190 GW to 200 GW, but could be as much as 230 GW if certain government programs like Top Runner hit their targets. Bottom line, China is still the world leader in solar by a long shot and is a key market for every solar company. 

Corporate America's love for renewable energy continues

JPMorgan Chase (JPM 0.87%) became the latest company to publicly commit to going to 100% renewable  energy. Management says that by 2020, it will get all of its energy from renewable sources and that it plans to facilitate $200 billion in clean energy financing by 2025. 

Not only is this another company committing to renewable energy, but the financing that JPMorgan Chase will make available will help keep the industry's development cycle going. Solar companies will welcome the funding with open arms. 

France's coming solar boom

France completed another tender this week, announcing winners of 77 large-scale solar projects with a combined capacity of 507.6 MW. The average price for the electricity from the solar farms will be 6.49 cents per kWh. This is the first tender of six for utility-scale solar that will take place every six months in France. 

In two tenders earlier this year, SunPower (SPWR -1.64%) was a big winner, supplying 194 MW of solar panels in total. The company hasn't announced whether it won any contracts to supply panels in this round, but with its ties to parent company Total in France, the market should be a big one for SunPower. 

News and notes

Here are some of the other notable items from the week in solar. 

  • SunEdison is coming back to the stock market sometime in the near future. A bankruptcy judge cleared the way for a final restructuring of the company, and issuing new stock was a key part of the plan. SunEdison will be a slimmed-down renewable energy developer after the sale of TerraForm Power and TerraForm Global, but is a player worth watching given its experience developing renewable assets long term. 
  • North Carolina passed a bill that will open up the rooftop solar market to leases and create a new competitive process for utility-scale solar projects. North Carolina is one of the biggest solar markets in the U.S., and its legislature is showing some support of the industry, something that's spreading across the country. 
  • SunPower has announced that it will supply 29.9 MW of E-Series solar panels to Tenergie for solar projects in France. Once again, SunPower is seeing France as a big growth market, and its sale of older E-Series products should be a boost to its finances over the next year as well. 

Check back to for more solar coverage next week, including the news on SunPower's earnings report on Tuesday after the bell. 

Travis Hoium owns shares of First Solar, JPMorgan Chase, and SunPower. The Motley Fool recommends First Solar. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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