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Latest Trends in the Solar Industry: Coverage of 26th Annual ROTH Conference Panel Discussion

By  +Follow March 12, 2014 6:57AM
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Monday at the 26th Annual ROTH Conference saw some of the industry leaders for solar panel manufacturing sit down to discuss the future of their industry. It’s an exciting time to be a solar company at the moment, with a huge run in 2013 that left the Guggenheim Solar ETF (TAN) the top-performing non-leveraged ETF for the year. Of course, anyone working at a solar company probably also remembers the lean years that preceded the boom when valuations plunged in 2011 and then bottomed out in late 2012.

The panel at the ROTH Conference looked at an array of issues facing the solar industry, including the promise of energy storage technology, the rate of growing demand for their products, and even the ongoing trade war with China.

The panel was moderated by Philip Shen, a Senior Research Analyst ROTH Capital Partners, and introduced by Chris Forrester, a partner at Sherman & Sterling. Sitting on the panel was Rhone Resch, President & CEO of the Solar Energy Industry Association; Tony DiPaolo, the CFO of Real Goods Solar ($RGSE); Herman Zhao, the CFO of JA Solar Holdings (JASO) ; and Michael Potter, CFO of Canadian Solar (CSIQ) .

Growing Demand is Promising for Industry

As much as demand has increased in the last year and a half, industry experts continue to anticipate strong growth into the future. And the panelists were more than willing to discuss the sunny future for their industry.

“[It’s] very uncertain… [but] we expect to have a 10 gW market by 2016 in the [United States],” said Rhone Resch. “And depending on what happens with distributed generation, depending on what happens with state renewable portfolio standards, the ITC, and also the EPA’s 111d rules, we think that demand can continue to rise from there. So I think in 2019 in the United States, you’ll see the market somewhere around 15 gW on an annual basis. I think the US will remain in that 10-20 percent of the global market, so I think you’ll see a global market somewhere around 100 gW by 2019.”

Michael Potter, meanwhile, observed that even in the industry’s darkest days, it was still growing.

“A lot of people missed the fact that, a few years ago when things looked fairly dire for solar, the market was still growing,” he said. “Even in the worst years when the valuation of the solar companies was the lowest, there was still growth year-over-year in demand.”

Tony DiPaolo emphasized that the potential growth on the residential side was very strong in the near-term future.

“When we look at numbers for next year and the year after, we see 30 to 50 percent growth in volumes that would put next year somewhere above a gigawatt on the residential side, possible as high as 1.2 gW, and similar growth the year after,” he said.

But ultimately, it was clear that the record year in 2013 was generating excitement throughout the industry.

“We’ve been building out solar in the United States for 30 years, right? In the last 18 months, we’ve installed as much solar as we have in the previous 30 years,” said Resch.

Emerging Markets Could Sustain Growth

Also contained in the discussion of rising global demand was the consideration of just where that demand would be coming from. The potential for emerging markets to drive the construction of new solar capacity is clearly an exciting prospect for many in the industry.

“A few years ago, a very dramatic shift happened,” said Michael Potter. “It used to be purely policy driven. Without government policy offering incentives, there was no demand for solar… Very recently, the costs of solar … has become so affordable that in most places in the world it’s actually very competitive ... And it lots of places in the world, it’s actually much cheaper to build solar today. In emerging markets, where they need electricity quickly and they have a big concern about pollution, solar can be built quickly and it can come on line fast and it’s not polluting and it’s very cost effective. There’s no real need to make large incentives.”

“I think if you want to look for what’s the next big market…the Middle East and South America would be the two that I would name off the top of my head,” he continued. “There’s a lot of countries in the Middle East that burn oil to generate electricity. Obviously, using solar would be a much better way of generating electricity. They can either save the oil for longer or sell it and get more money for it. And South America, again, it’s an area where there’s not a lot of direct government incentive to pay people for putting solar in but where the cost of solar is very grid competitive. And there’s a lot of industries that need electricity and need the flexibility that distributed generation can bring. So I think that those regions could be quite good markets for solar going forward.”

New Technologies Could be Game-Changing

The current focus for these companies is clearly in using their current technologies to grow into new markets, but that didn’t mean that the anticipation of new products isn’t wasn’t on their radar. Most notably, excitement surrounded the potential contained in energy storage technology. While still not on the market, batteries that could efficiently store energy collected while the sun’s up so it can be distributed at night, during peak usage, were viewed as potential game-changers.

“I think the real thing is, you have to understand we’re also a technology driven sector,” said Potter. “And one of the areas where there’s a big chance for a breakthrough is in energy storage. If there’s a good breakthrough and you can actually store the energy that’s generated during the day and use it at night? I think 10 percent a year is nothing compared to where it could grow and you could see a big move towards not just distributed generation solar, but large arrays of solar storing energy overnight.”

An Industry, not an Issue

One theme that also ran through the panel was solar’s growing independence from policy-driven demand. The desire to operate outside of political debate was clear, and these executives seemed confident that the industry was heading for a place where it could continue healthy growth without relying on government policies.

“There’s lots of countries in the world that have ‘conservative’ governments that are pro-solar,” said Potter. “I don’t think it’s really a Democrat vs. Republican issue. If it’s not heavily government-subsidized and it’s a beneficial industry and a beneficial technology to use, a lot of the partisan discussion goes away. … I see a lot of Republicans suddenly realizing that this is an individual empowering technology, where you can disconnect yourself from the grid and where you’re not beholden to the government and you can still power electricity in your house. And it’s a very different way of looking at it. If it’s a money-burning, eventually job-destroying type of effort that’s just government subsidy driven? That’s going to get a political discussion around it. If it’s a technology to generate electricity that’s competitive with and environmentally friendly compared to other forms of electricity generation? Then it’s just a dollars and cents kind of things.”

Rhone Resch echoed this sentiment.

“What we work really hard [for] as an industry is to make sure that we are not defined as an ‘issue,’” he said. “So when Obama talks about environment as an issue or talks about solar as an issue, we want to redefine solar as an industry. … There’s a lot of really positive stories that are occurring in Republican districts, Republican states. We get support from Republican senators as well as Governors. And so what we’re trying to do is position ourselves so that we do have broad-based bipartisan support.”

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions.


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Results for TAN
Polyticks
25 Nov 14 22:36:30
RT @shuli_ren: China’s Clean Energy Benefits Big From Beijing’s Rate Cut http://t.co/ufaOZDLNq0 via @barronsonline $TAN $JKS $YGE $JASO
SP//dr
25 Nov 14 21:51:17
#SaveConstantine $Save $Cons $tan $tine
Ben Silverberg
25 Nov 14 18:58:33
Leading market sectors lower Tuesday included: $XLE $TAN $ITB $XLB $EEM $FXI $RSX $MOO $KOL $USO.
Otto Max Investments
25 Nov 14 11:01:24
$TAN has been trying to crack this resistance for the last 3 days. It's only a matter of time now. http://t.co/kkQSTrqldK
Turnt Up! Radio
25 Nov 14 06:27:58
$tan 🙌 #amber #amberrose #wiz #wizkhalifa #love #couple #blackchyna #t4l #follow #instamood #instagood #smile #be... http://t.co/CUdTaJZD2p
bluebeecharts
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$TAN Can solars break out or continue to consolidate? If its not on your list you'll never know. http://t.co/zUcng3mGcP
Market Int Center
24 Nov 14 12:00:33
Potential Guggenheim Solar ETF $TAN Trade Has 5.67% Downside Protection ( http://t.co/dkvtsbkYm3 )
Oblivion&Oathkeeper
24 Nov 14 11:16:54
Listen to Legacy X [Prod.By October Samuel] by $tan-Li #np on #SoundCloud https://t.co/Ecl4PtiS7G
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Still long $AMBA $TAN $AMZN thinking to add $GPRO decent support building.
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24 Nov 14 07:03:42
@hellohween but u have zouk there T.T if he comes again next year i'll make sure you'll be able to come here yas $tan!
OPTIONS/STOCK EXPERT
24 Nov 14 06:04:19
$SCTY $SPWR $FSLR $TAN $CSIQ Gapping up this morning, we saw big boys flow last week, video analysis http://t.co/Z7vXiPHH1l $SPY $QQQ $DIA
Tech Alerts
24 Nov 14 06:00:04
Trina Solar On Deck As Sector Tries To Bounce Back http://t.co/QruCvmghWd $ASTI $CSIQ $DQ $HSOL $JASO $JKS $RGSE $SCTY $SOL $SUNE $TAN
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Solar ETFs Extend Losses On Dull Outlook http://t.co/DI4H1ZowRK $TAN $KWT
yvonne (15)
24 Nov 14 04:56:29
@hellohween didn't know Garrix had 4 legs $tan!!!
Gregory Bent
24 Nov 14 04:18:00
China’s Clean Energy Benefits Big From Beijing’s Rate Cut http://t.co/cuec7UsEY9 via @barronsonline $TAN $SCTY $FSLR $JASO $JKS
Turkey Frunch™
23 Nov 14 23:11:28
$tan
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23 Nov 14 20:58:14
China’s Clean Energy Benefits Big From Beijing’s Rate Cut http://t.co/ufaOZDLNq0 via @barronsonline $TAN $JKS $YGE $JASO
Otto Max Investments
23 Nov 14 16:45:20
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@DavidMonrealA @aldu_maria @UnHombreSolo_ Y aki entre nos...solo tan viendo a kien robar, los poli$ $tan como con Durazo💰💸💵💲💰🚓🐁🐀🚔
RiFF RAF $iMON$
23 Nov 14 14:14:11
@Sean_Garrett28 for my main BADA$$ $tan http://t.co/VM4d3h8SoP
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23 Nov 14 12:24:28
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23 Nov 14 08:21:17
Listen to Final Stages by $tan-Li #np on #SoundCloud https://t.co/hGyhRCpVuj
Seeking Alpha - All
23 Nov 14 05:44:32
Trina Solar On Deck As Sector Tries To Bounce Back http://t.co/D075bnGm0E $ASTI $CSIQ $DQ $HSOL $JASO $JKS $RGSE $SCTY $SOL $SUNE $TAN
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22 Nov 14 20:06:25
Follow @masg _facebook $kady na kady$ $tan sadi yad$ $ayo gi$
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22 Nov 14 19:44:15
Solar ETFs Extend Losses On Dull Outlook http://t.co/peVLGebttc $TAN $KWT
Otto Max Investments
22 Nov 14 13:10:21
@JBigbend $TAN is ready to go Monday am. $USO might have a buyable dip to $29. Their daily charts indicate their runs have just started.
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22 Nov 14 13:09:35
RT @newworldsolar2: Trading ETFs [like $TAN] for alternative energy stocks? Here's a must see video from trader of $TSLA trade fame > http:…
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22 Nov 14 12:09:55
Trading ETFs [like $TAN] for alternative energy stocks? Here's a must see video from trader of $TSLA trade fame > http://t.co/41LwO29OwK
Otto Max Investments
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$TAN update: new price range & $40 is next. Names I'm in: $CSIQ, $GPRE. http://t.co/azuzAlodK1
TalkMarkets
22 Nov 14 10:33:45
Oil Market Conditions And Opportunities $XLE $XOM $CVX $OXY $MUR $XOP $OIH $FRAK $ENY $KOL $NLR $FAN $TAN http://t.co/LU3wS23sRb
RichardGamingo
22 Nov 14 08:16:38
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W /nadeem husain
22 Nov 14 06:10:51
Follow @x veena 240 $kady na kady$ $tan sadi yad$ $ayo gi$
TalkMarkets Recap
22 Nov 14 04:33:42
Oil Market Conditions And Opportunities $XLE $XOM $CVX $OXY $MUR $XOP $OIH $FRAK $ENY $KOL $NLR $FAN $TAN http://t.co/4DiPYbvuGm
W /nadeem husain
21 Nov 14 22:56:52
Follow @amir_jan_z $kady na kady$ $tan sadi yad$ $ayo gi$
TalkMarkets
21 Nov 14 21:39:05
Oil Market Conditions And Opportunities $XLE $XOM $CVX $OXY $MUR $XOP $OIH $FRAK $ENY $KOL $NLR $FAN $TAN http://t.co/b4b5zySizo
Scott Smith
21 Nov 14 14:03:02
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Woll Street
21 Nov 14 13:00:14
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Shaun
21 Nov 14 09:40:44
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Lach 14
21 Nov 14 08:44:26
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Oblivion&Oathkeeper
21 Nov 14 07:38:47
Listen to Hunter X Hunter [Prod.By Kid Ocean] by $tan-Li #np on #SoundCloud https://t.co/2a7z0971OK
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21 Nov 14 07:37:12
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Bhavin Shah
21 Nov 14 07:36:31
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Jean Fonteneau
21 Nov 14 06:56:48
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Emily Brackett
21 Nov 14 06:44:03
@StanSmith_10 😊 thank you $tan. Lol miss you and hope you're doing well!
Bera
21 Nov 14 06:42:33
cmon $tan...fight #Wawrinka
Shaun
21 Nov 14 06:17:39
I remain long with size $QQQ $SPY $AMBA $AMZN $TAN etc same names from last few weeks. Took all profits on oil shorts yesterday lowered $TLT
Oblivion&Oathkeeper
20 Nov 14 23:51:28
Listen to Hunter X Hunter [Prod.By Kid Ocean] by $tan-Li #np on #SoundCloud https://t.co/2a7z0971OK
Kyle Dudine
20 Nov 14 19:30:37
@jord_cimilluca looks like u and @daniellademarc0 Are gonna have to fight for magic man $tan #throwthehands #squadup
Ben Silverberg
20 Nov 14 19:23:36
Leading market sectors higher Thursday included: $GLD $GDX $GDXJ $XME $SLV $SIL $IWM $SMH $XLE $USO $UNG $ITB $XRT $TLT $RSX $TAN
Francisco J. Pozo
20 Nov 14 16:32:06
$TAN chart https://t.co/oxM3GFDOzK via http://t.co/Rz3S7HPNEO
				
				
By  +Follow March 12, 2014 6:57AM
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