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Observations from Solar Power Part 1

|Includes: FSLR, STP, SunEdison, Inc. (SUNEQ), TSL, YGE

I have a great opportunity to attend Solar Power International 2011 in Dallas, TX.  For those who believe, the solar industry is in trouble, this conference would change your minds.  SPI is the leading solar event each year and draws in countless exhibitors, including 200+ module manufacturers and all the major names including First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR), Suntech (NYSE:STP), Trina Solar (NYSE:TSL), Yingli Green Energy (NYSE:YGE) and many others.  One of the obvious challenges is that given the recent price declines, how will so many module manufacturers with so much capacity ultimately survive?  It appears that different companies are taking different strategies from vertical integration to product differentiation in response to a competitive market.

Having attended this event for a third consecutive year, it is important to see the industry on a global basis.  While the solar industry has a bad reputation in the U.S. from the recent Solyndra bankruptcy, it is a global industry and will continue to develop.  Furthermore, the U.S. is expected to become the number one market for solar PV installations within a few years.  Germany is the current leader and this title was previous held by Spain.  While looking through the exhibit halls, it was difficult to look in any one direction and not see a Chinese module manufacturer's booth, many U.S. companies are making inroads in the global market.  MEMC's (WFR) SunEdison division is rapidly expanding overseas.  A quick look at their website shows country GMs all across Asia.  Having expanded from placing arrays on retail stores, SunEdison is fast becoming a global leader in the solar PV industry.