The largest factor driving the volatility of solar stocks recently has been the uncertainty surrounding European solar subsidy cuts. favourable policies in countries like Germany and Spain drive the revenues of many companies like First Solar (FSLR). While Germany appears to be putting together a solar policy that won’t sink solar stocks, subsidy risk in Spain is still very high.
If you need more evidence of the boon these subsidies are to solar companies, just look to General Motors’ (GM) new rooftop array, put together with help from Energy Conversion Devices (ENER) (NYT):
A Michigan company, Energy Conversion Devices, plans to announce Tuesday that it is providing the solar electric system for what it says will be the world’s largest rooftop array, on a General Motors assembly plant in Zaragoza, Spain. The project will be 12 megawatts, a huge number in a field where most arrays are measured in kilowatts, units 1,000 times smaller….
Spain has become a centre of solar installations because it offers generous subsidies, 0.42 euro a kilowatt-hour (66 cents). That is about five times the average cost of a kilowatt hour to residential customers in the United States. The Spanish government is considering a reduction in the subsidy for installations after September…
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group based in Washington, the largest installation planned in the United States… [is] about one-fifth the size of the installation to be completed in Spain.
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