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By Alexander Moschina

Between 2008 and 2009, U.S. energy consumption dropped 4%. It was the first time in more than 60 years that the country experienced two consecutive years of decline. And it could be three years before electric utilities get back to pre-recession earnings.

But that didn’t seem to bother the U.S. solar industry. On the back of federal stimulus spending and mounting pressures to “go green,” alternative energy companies hit record highs, with solar enjoying a 37% jump in 2009.

And that’s just the beginning…

Over the next three years, analysts predict the U.S. share of the global solar market will grow from 6% to 25%, as demand rises and costs fall.

That bodes well for one industry leader, in particular. With cost and power both major obstacles to the solar energy sector in the United States, its technology makes solar panels cheaper and a more bountiful source of power.

In September alone, shares of the Colorado company shot up by 52%. Then on October 11, it received certification for its CIGS line of solar panels, which sent the stock up 34% on the day.

More importantly, though, the certification clears the way for a deal that could be worth billions…

A Multibillion-Dollar Deal in India Sends Ascent Solar Shares Through the Roof

On October 27, Ascent Solar Technologies (Nasdaq: ASTI) announced that The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI) of New Delhi will test its CIGS panels for use in India’s “Lighting a Billion Lives” campaign. It’s a campaign worth $70 billion, with the goal of replacing kerosene and paraffin lamps with solar devices.

While specifics of the deal have yet to be released, the partnership could be worth billions and would be sure to explode Ascent’s current $127 million market cap.

Akanksha Chaurey, the campaign’s director, says, “Ascent Solar has been one of the forerunners in the development of futuristic technologies.” She added that the company would contribute much-needed updates to their ongoing projects.

And it’s a win-win scenario for the company. If it emerges as the top dog in the Indian market (and it’s well on track so far), its position will rocket elsewhere. But whether the deal materializes or not, Ascent is still poised to explode…

Ascent Solar Teams Up with GlobalWatt to Corner a $7 Billion Market

On October 22, Ascent Solar announced a partnership with California-based GlobalWatt, Inc. to manufacture the first-ever line of retractable solar panels. The product will allow for faster charging and longer usage time.

The line gives Ascent Solar an even stronger hold in the photo-voltaic market – a section of the solar industry that will reach $7 billion in the next five years.

In fact, solar energy as a whole is a rapidly expanding industry. Thirty years ago, for example, there were less than 20 solar companies in the United States. Today, there are more than 1,000 in California alone.

And Ascent Solar is quickly shaping up to be America’s strongest contender. The company’s shares have dipped since its October runup… but that’s understandable after such a massive surge.

And as sales roll in, this industry leader should once again find itself on a serious uptrend.

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Disclaimer: The Oxford Club LLC/Investment U and Stansberry & Associates Investment Research are separate companies, and entirely distinct. Their only common thread is a shared parent company, Agora Inc. Agora Inc. was named in the suit by the SEC and was exonerated by the court, and thus dropped from the case. Stansberry & Associates was found civilly liable for a matter that dealt with one writer's report on a company. The action was not a criminal matter.