China Sunergy’s Silicon-Shortage Pains Continue

Chinese solar-cell maker China Sunergy watched shares slide almost 6 percent Monday after posting a third-quarter loss. The company is battling a tight silicon supply that has plagued the solar industry.

China Sunergy (NSDQ: CSUN) reported a net loss of $4.4 million, or 11 cents per share. In the same quarter last year, the company saw a profit of $2.6 million, or 11 cents per share.

Although revenues rose 33 percent -- to $49 million from $36.8 million -- it wasn’t enough to put the company in good standing with analysts, who were expecting a loss of 7 cents per share on revenue of $63.4 million.

China Sunergy also warned it expects silicon supply constraints to continue, at least in the short term.

The solar industry has been in the midst of a silicon shortage that has squeezed company margins, especially for new entrants (see Could China Steal the Solar Throne?, Silicon Shortage Has Big Impact, Silicon Starvation, Panelists Debate When the Silicon Shortage Will End).

And China Sunergy has turned into a poster child of sorts for the negative industry impacts from the shortage (see China Sunergy Gets a Bit of Relief).

In August, the company saw its stock tank 63 percent after posting a second-quarter loss and missing analyst expectations (see Silicon Steals the Spotlight, Again). China Sunergy also blamed the silicon shortage for its missed earnings then.

Wall Street sent shares down $0.47 to close at $7.56 per share Monday.

In a research note, Sanjay Shrestha, a senior analyst for Lazard Capital Markets said Suntech posted "disappointing results again." The company will need to raise more money on the public markets in the near future, he said.

Shrestha said he expects that overall profitability and silicon supply will remain big issues for the company into 2008. He also wrote that China Sunergy’s guidance of reaching about 170 megawatts for 2008 "appears a bit stretched."

In a separate announcement, China Sunergy said it entered into an agreement to sell 25 megawatts of solar cells to Canadian Solar in 2008.

IPCC Report Says Costs of Climate Change to Increase

A United Nations panel on Saturday released a summary of its synthesis report on climate change (see PDF here).

The summary by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of 2,500 scientists from more than 130 countries, called global warming "unequivocal."

According to the report, human influences have very likely contributed to higher sea levels, likely contributed to wind-pattern changes, likely increased temperatures of extreme hot nights, cold nights and cold days and more likely than not increased risk of heat waves, areas affected by drought and the frequency of heavy rain and snow.

The group also found that climate-change impacts are very likely to impose net costs that increase over time, but that a portfolio of available and new technologies can stabilize climate change if "appropriate and effective" incentives are put in place.

The synthesis report summary comes after three other summaries of different pieces of the report were released throughout the year (see Can Technology Save the World?).

The intergovernmental panel last month won a Nobel Peace Prize alongside former U.S. Vice President Al Gore for its work on behalf of the environment.

Sci-Fi Car Rides Into the Present

Aptera Motors officially introduced its three-wheeled vehicle Monday.

The Aptera Typ-1, which looks like it came right out of sci-fi, will be available in two versions -- an all-electric and a hybrid model -- and will cost less than $30,000.

Aptera said all-electric drivers can expect to travel about 120 miles before needing to plug into a standard 110-volt outlet to recharge. The hybrid gets more than 300 miles per gallon, the company claims.

Greentech Media reported in late-September that the Carlsbad, Calif.-based company was accepting pre-orders (see Mr. Spock’s New Ride). But Monday’s news brought more details about the vehicles.

The new particulars included a 2008 delivery date for the vehicles. Aptera also said the vehicles will include an optional third seat big enough for only a select part of the population -- newborns to 3-year-olds.

The company claims the cars have enough storage space fit two full-size golf-club bags. But you can’t fit both the child and the golf-club bags, so folks will have to choose one.

Aptera also has done away with side mirrors in favor of cameras that display, in the dashboard, a 180-degree rear view.

The company plans to deliver the vehicles to customers in California first and then roll them out to the rest of the country.

But it hasn’t given a timeline for when the vehicles will arrive. And, although the company said it received more than 400 deposits for pre-orders, it is still raising funding to begin manufacturing.

Aptera is backed by Idealab and Esenjay Investments, which provided an undisclosed amount of money to help build the Typ-1 prototypes.

Aptera is not the only one interested in bring sci-fi-inspired alternative vehicles to the market.

In late October, Los Angeles-based Venture Vehicles said it’s on track to role out two versions of its three-wheeled alternative vehicle in the second quarter of 2009 (see this video and Venture Vehicles to Produce Three-Wheeled Alternative Car).

The tilting two-seater is Tron-like in appearance and also will come in hybrid and fully electric versions.