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Thin Film Solar Takes Root

Written By Nick Hodge

Posted November 2, 2010

Even with new record-sized plants being announced weekly, traditional solar technologies like panels and concentrating mirrors are quickly becoming par for the course.

Don’t get me wrong — those types of solar will be around for years to come, with 665% growth slated for the solar PV sector by 2020.

But as with any technology, it’s what’s on the horizon that gets investors really excited…

The next winner is thinner

Walmart (NYSE: WMT) recently announced it would begin installing thin film solar panels on many of its stores.

The blue chip corporation is using thin film because it can be rolled out on the flat roofs of buildings and is more efficient than traditional panels, even in snow- and fog-prone areas.

Those are the same reasons the biggest solar plant in the world was just built using thin film solar…

And it’s not in Spain, Arizona, or North Africa. It’s in Ontario.

Both Walmart and the Ontario plant are using First Solar’s (NASDAQ: FSLR) thin film modules (pictured below).

Sarnia Solar

But beyond efficiency and immunity to snow and fog, thin film is gaining traction for several other reasons.

And there are plenty of companies in line with specialized thin film technology just itching to steal First Solar’s leadership position.

Sun not required

I just told you MIT has pioneered a solar cell made of only five layers of nanomaterial. It can be deposited on nearly any material and used to make solar lampshades, drapes, and blinds.

But a few companies are taking it a step further… and they’re making billions as they turn energy conventions on their heads.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported (though I covered this story before they did) both Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics now offer solar-powered cell phones for sale.

Nokia has demonstrated a model that runs entirely on solar power.

Logitech debuted a solar keyboard this week.

This summer, Swiss company Solar Impulse completed a 24-hour test flight of an airplane powered entirely by solar. Through a partnership with Solvay (EURONEXT: SOLB), the company built a plane using 12,000 thin film solar cells.

And a 24-hour test flight means this solar plane can even fly at night.

Present profits

Because thin film opens up new possibilities for solar power, it also opens up new possibilities for profit.

Take Ascent Solar (NASDAQ: ASTI) for example. It’s thin film modules recently earned certification from the International Electrochemical Commission (IEC), and it’s been accumulating contracts ever since.

Since the beginning of October, the company has inked thin film deals with DisaSolar in France, Votum in the Czech Republic, The Energy and Resource Institute in India, and GlobalWatt here in the States.

And the stock has been flying. It’s the blue line in the chart below:

Thin Film Solar Chart

The stock in green is the focus of our new investors’ webinar. And apparently we’re not the only ones taking notice…

Last week, CNBC featured the company’s breakthrough solar technology as part of its “Race to Fuel the Future” series. And by the looks of it, this company will indeed be fueling the future.

Both investors and CNBC have taken fondly to the company’s first-of-its-kind solar spray — a nano-spray that can be applied to multiple surfaces, turning them into energy-generating devices.

And there are two reasons why this stock is going to soar much higher than the 150% of the past two weeks:

  1. The spray doesn’t need sunlight to create electricity. It can power indoor appliances with artificial light.

  2. Cities’ worth of existing buildings won’t need new hardware or pricey installations to go solar. Older buildings in New York, Chicago, and urban areas across the globe can add solar by simply spraying their windows.

The gains will be thousands of percentage points.

But they get smaller with every passing day and every investor that learns about the technology…

By the way, if it’s average market gains you’re after, check out the red line in that chart. It’s the Dow, and it’s up 4% in the same time these thin film stocks have doubled.

Call it like you see it,

Nick Hodge


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