Attempts to lift Evergreen Solar (Nasdaq: ESLR) out of the penny-stock swamp by natural means aren't working. Here comes the reverse split!

Evergreen will trade under the new symbol ESLRD for 20 days starting tomorrow (yes, the split happens on a Saturday). The market is taking this in stride as the plan was approved months ago and largely finalized this month. Monday morning, Evergreen's shares should be worth about $3 per share, reflecting a 1-for-6 reverse split.

All told, the stock lost 61% of its value in 2010, some of it due to the desperate Hail-Mary-type financial restructuring plan at the end. But the troubles run deeper than mere market technicalities, and fellow Fool Travis Holum is left questioning the company's future. At the core of the matter, rivals including First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR) and Trina Solar (NYSE: TSL) can produce their panels and materials much cheaper than Evergreen can, pending a large build-out of the company's manufacturing capacity.

Solar power remains an important technology for a greener, more efficient future. If Evergreen can pull off its cost-cutting and financial restructuring moves without going under first, the stock could be one of the greatest turnaround-fueled bouncers of 2011. But that's a rather big "if."

Trina and First Solar might be a better fit for a risk-averse portfolio, and industrial megaconglomerate 3M (NYSE: MMM) would be an even better fit if you're truly safety-minded yet want some exposure to solar technologies. Evergreen Solar is a lottery ticket today -- win big or lose big.

Add Evergreen Solar to your Foolish watch list to keep track of the company's ups and downs.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. 3M is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. First Solar is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.