Yesterday, investors responded enthusiastically to Canadian Solar's
This company chose an unusual name; despite the location of headquarters, production occurs in China. The report was so sunny that other Chinese suppliers like Yingli Green Energy
Management's most interesting comment yesterday was that, beginning this quarter, the firm will be shipping modules utilizing upgraded metallurgical silicon. This might sound like first-class material, but it's actually scrappier stuff than the high-purity polysilicon in such short supply today.
As discussed in my piece on solar innovation, metallurgical silicon is actually polysilicon's relatively cheap raw material input, produced by commodity chemical manufacturers like Dow Chemical
That's the promise of upgraded metallurgical (UMG) silicon, an area of development I'd previously overlooked. One startup, CaliSolar, claims to be cranking out market-competitive, UMG-based solar cells in its lab. DARPA-backed Blue Square Energy is looking to commercialize a cheap solar cell involving a thin-film layer of pure silicon deposited on a UMG substrate, or base layer.
Because Canadian Solar has experience with reclaiming silicon scrap, it may have a leg up on these aspirants. If the firm finds success in this area, the company would become significantly more valuable in my eyes.