European project developer Epuron said Wednesday it has completed the sixth-largest thin-film solar project in the world -- a 4.8-megawatt power plant that will feed a public power grid about 45 miles north of Munich.
Epuron, a subsidiary of German renewable-energy giant Conergy, also said it has already received approval to build additional thin-film projects in Germany and plans to pursue still more.
Conergy isn't the only one trying to expand its thin-film solar presence in Deutschland.
New Jersey's thin-film panel maker EPV Solar said Tuesday it has begun building a manufacturing facility in Senftenberg, Germany.
The facility is expected to open in the fourth quarter of 2008 with an initial capacity of 25 megawatts per year.
According to EPV Solar, the company has signed contracts to deliver more than 300 megawatts of thin-film panels through 2012.
Thin-film solar technologies, such as those being produced by Epuron and EPV Solar, have become increasingly attractive because they use little or no silicon in a time when the solar industry is battling a worldwide shortage (see Silicon Shortage Has Big Impact, Silicon Starvation and Panelists Debate When the Silicon Shortage Will End).
A slew of thin-film companies have been racing to get their technology into the market place.
For example, in December Nanosolar announced it had kicked off production of its thin-film solar panels and HelioVolt said it had selected a location in Texas for its first factory (see Nanosolar Begins Production and HelioVolt on Nanosolar's Heels). Despite the surge in movement by thin-film companies, however, bringing the technology to market can still be a rough ride.
For example, thin-film maker First Solar (NSDQ: FSLR) -- which has been an investor favorite, with shares doubling to peak at $283 per share in December after the company announced plans to expand production and posted dazzling third-quarter earnings (see Thin-Film Solar Production to Leap Forward) -- has seen shares tumble in the last two days. On Wednesday, the company's stock fell 11.34 percent after tumbling 6 percent the day before. First Solar closed at $181.56 per share Wednesday, 35.8 percent off its peak last month.
So why the cold shoulder?
"I think that a good portion of the selling is market-related as opposed to something to do with the company itself," said Nick Perry, an equity analyst for Schaeffer's Investment Research who writes for the Trading Floor Blog.
Perry said many of last year's strong stocks have sold off in the past few weeks. He calls it a profit-taking function.
"The stocks became a bit extended," he said, adding that strong stocks are typically the first to get cut when investors are nervous about the market.
But not every stock watcher sees it that way.
In fact, Jim Gillies of the Motley Fool is calling First Solar the "worst stock" of 2008.
"Certainly, year-over-year revenue growth of 271 percent looks tantalizing," he wrote Monday. According to Gillies' numbers, First Solar would need almost a decade of more "modest" growth to justify the company's more recent stock prices.