LONDON, January 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
2013 has started with a beam of sunshine for companies with operations in solar energy, as demand levels look poised to rise and a number of innovative products have been newly launched. Some have predicted that the worldwide solar market could increase by over twenty percent this year, which bodes well for industry players such as First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) and Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd., (NYSE: STP) as well as Trina Solar Limited (NYSE: TSL), LDK Solar Co Ltd. (NYSE: LDK) and Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd. (NYSE: YGE). Although European demand is again expected to be soft this year, the industry could more than offset slow sales in Europe with rising sales in India, the U.S. and China, along with other countries around the globe.
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China is a particular bright spot, as the National Energy Administration there stated that it plans to more than double its current level of solar capacity this year alone. This bodes well for companies such as Suntech and Trina, as well as Yingli Green Energy among others. Yingli Green Energy has been excelling of late and it newly reported that preliminary data for its 4th quarter indicated a record number in regards to its module shipment. The Chinese government has also recently agreed to a plan to offer subsidies for roof-top solar installations, which could also provide a boost to a number of companies including LDK Solar and Trina. LDK Solar is a good example of a company moving up, as its share price has climbed significantly over the last month or so. With China set to increase its solar capacity in a serious way, investors may want to take a closer look at which companies provide the best exposure to the Chinese market.
China is not the only place set to up its solar energy levels this year as India and the U.S. are also primed to bolster capacity. India is currently a stirring market for solar companies, as a number of central and state government programs are currently aimed at increasing the nation's solar capacity significantly over the next ten years or so. The U.S. is also moving forward, and some have predicted a capacity increase of over twenty-five percent this year. First Solar is currently in the midst of adding to the nation's capacity, as it recently announced it has started building the 139 megawatt Campo Verde solar project, located close to El Centro in Imperial County, California. The project is expected to be completed this year.
With competition heating up in the industry, innovations and product quality are gaining in importance. Solar equipment needs to be able to withstand a number of different challenging environments, and those with innovative and durable offerings could outperform their peers moving forward. Two companies that have been making headlines in this regard are Trina and Suntech. In the case of Trina, the company newly stated that its photovoltaic modules received certification for salt mist, sand blast and PID testing from top certification bodies, meaning their products have performed well in a number of tough climates including coastal and desert regions. Suntech's solar modules have also recently been put to the test, passing the Blowing Sand Test based on DIN EN 60068-2-68 LC2 by SGS. The test results affirm that the solar modules are well equipped to deal with desert conditions.
While the industry has a lot going for it there are a number of headwinds. Intense competition has kept margins down for many in the industry, and depressed natural gas prices are also making solar energy a tough sell in some cases. Despite these headwinds, companies look poised for growth, and increasing share prices are indicative of investor support for the industry at this time.
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