So, what exactly is involved in calculating solar panels cost in Descanso? When thinking about solar power very few people know the way the cost of solar panel systems is actually measured. Or even, for that matter, do we automatically grasp the connection relating to the cost of solar power and the value of solar power. We all know that gasoline prices are in dollars per gallon. We likewise are all aware of approximately how far we’ll be able to drive after spending 40 bucks for a tank of gas. In contrast to a tank of gas, the value of which can be consumed pretty much instantly, solar panels deliver their value across a period of time.
Descanso 3 Undervalued Solar Leaders
SolarCity Stock Should Continue to Rise As Solar Becomes More Affordable
Energy is one of the world's largest sectors in the market; therefore energy stocks comprise a large amount of the portfolios of institutional and individual investors. Oil, of course, is the largest in the energy sector at roughly 36%, followed by natural gas at 24%. Interestingly one of the most talked about sources of energy, solar energy, still only comprises one quarter of one percent of today's energy supply. However those numbers should shift upward over the next decade as witnessed by last year's 86% growth in the solar industry. In the U.S, solar energy consumption grew by nearly 34% reaching 0.212 quadrillion Btu. Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts that solar will gain 24%, second largest share of new power capacity behind wind power, added in terms of GW by 2030.
Though the "green" movement does play a role to some extent, what may actually be driving the shift toward solar energy in residential and commercial buildings may be simple economics. People want to use cleaner energy to run their houses or businesses, but most are not willing to spend the extra money, or simply do not have the financial means to pay the extra costs to convert to solar. In 2005, solar panels typically cost $3.50 per watt of power, however, by 2012 prices had tumbled to 75 cents a watt, and some experts predict the prices will continue to fall, making it more cost effective for the consumer to have installed on their home or business.
But buying and installing solar panels is still costly, and could take upwards of twenty, for solar to pay for it. That's why the biggest shift in solar has come from companies leasing the panels to the customer and selling them the electricity at a reduced price compared to what the utility companies charge. It appears to be a win - win situation; as the industry has appeared to overcome a major obstacle eliminating the large upfront costs, and the solar company that leased and installed the panels makes money selling back the energy to the customer. For that reason, I believe the money to be made by the investors might be better placed in companies that buy the panels and install them, then have the customers lease them, thus making it affordable to the consumer.
That is what SolarCity (SCTY), a San Mateo CA company does. SolarCity designs, installs and sells or leases solar energy systems to residential and commercial customers, then sells the electricity generated by the solar energy systems back to customer at 10% to 20% less than the utility companies. And its business model appears to have attracted plenty of investors, as witnessed by the stocks run-up of over 250% since its December 2012 public offering.
In June, SolarCity announced the launch of a Zero-Down solar financing program for the home building industry, giving builders the opportunity to offer solar in new residential communities without the builder or the new homeowner incurring any upfront costs. In the first five months of 2013, the total kilowatts [KW] of SolarCity's installations for new home builder construction grew by more than 300% compared to the same period the previous year. Through its Homebuilder Partner Program, SolarCity has formed partnerships with over 30 national and regional home builders in 125 communities across the U.S.
According to Walter Cuculic, SolarCity's national manager of Builder Programs:
Home builders today are investing heavily in adopting green construction practices and solar is a linchpin in the success of a modern, energy efficient home. SolarCity's full-service offering and our new Zero-Down financing option helps home builders meet their aggressive construction timelines and stay within their budgets, and solar will save money for the homebuyer on their energy bills for years to come.
The company's initiative, where it plans to build more than $1 billion in solar projects to provide power to up to 120,000 military homes in the United States, continues to show success. On July 23rd SolarCity announced plans to add 12.8 megawatts of new solar generation capacity for up to 7,500 military homes at Lend Lease-managed Island Palm Communities throughout the island of Oahu. SolarStrong projects are already underway at nine other military bases throughout the U.S.
SolarCity was chosen by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) to install solar panels in 60 stores in California. SolarCity will own and maintain the solar power systems, and has added more than 500 new full-time employees since it initiated its first Wal-Mart solar project, and expects to hire hundreds more employees before year's end. Wal-Mart's solar power initiative will total more than 130 stores by the close of 2013.
Mack Wyckoff, senior manager of renewable energy at Wal-Mart, commented on the solar project:
Our solar efforts in California have proven to be a great way for Wal-Mart to build our renewable energy program. We are confident that we will continue to grow our solar energy program in the U.S. and around the world because of the initial success we have had in California.
While the business model and growth all sound positive, and SolarCity, which has a $3.12 billion market capitalization, has seen its customer base rise 106% year-over-year to over 57,400 and though the company increased its long-term contracted cash flow to $1.22 billion, it has yet to turn a profit. The reason is that though leasing the solar panels has shown to be the most successful method to attract clients, the long term leasing model requires upfront costs for the panels and the instillation, thus the company does not see any profits until the customer base expands enough to produce offsetting lease income. However, with panel prices continuing to drop, the company's upfront costs will drop as well. According to Kevin Landis, manager of the Firsthand Alternative Energy fund, in reference to SolarCity's business model:
When the price of panels goes down, their business gets better. The sweet spot is buying the panels and owning the output.
SolarCity stock closed on Wed. July 31 at $41.35 per share. For the first quarter of 2013, core operating lease revenue rose 85% to $15.1 million compared to $8.1 million in the first quarter of 2012. Total revenue grew 21% year-over-year to $30.0 million. Gross Profit rose 25% to $12.7 million, up from $10.1 million in the first quarter of 2012. Total operating expenses, however, rose $34.5 million in the first quarter compared to $24.7 million in the first quarter of 2012, due in part to the continued investments in development capabilities. For the second quarter 2013, SolarCity expects operating lease revenue to come in be between $16 million - $18 million, with solar energy systems sale revenue between $5 million - $10 million, and an operating expenses to be between $38 million - $42 million.
SolarCity does have its competitors like the larger SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR), a high quality solar panel producer based in San Jose, CA, that designs, manufactures and delivers solar panels and systems to residential, business, government and utility customers. SunPower has also built its leasing business to be the largest U.S. both residential and commercial, and globally the company has installed over 100,000 residential systems. Shares of SunPower have had an amazing run year to date, up 391%. After hours on July 31st, the company reported net income for the second quarter of $19.6 million or $0.15 per share, compared to a net loss of $84.2 million or $$0.71 per share for the same quarter last year. SunPower forecasts for the third quarter adjusted revenue of $550 million to $600 million and adjusted earnings of $0.15 to $0.35 per share. For fiscal 2013 the company expects adjusted revenue of $2.5 billion to $2.6 billion and raised its adjusted earnings from $0.60 to $0.80 per share to $1.00 to $1.30 per share. On August 1st, shares of SunPower dropped 10% on high volume to $25.20 in mid-day trading.
Solar power in residential and commercial is clearly on the rise with plenty of room to grow. Interestingly, what might accelerate the growth is that instructional investors have not gobbled up solar company shares; roughly 20% of SunPower shares are held by institutional investors, and only 17% of SolarCity is owned by institutional investors.
While I think both SolarCity and SunPower have the potential to continue to see their stocks rise significantly in the next few years, what I like about SolarCity is that it does not manufacture the solar panels, so it does not have to compete with the Chinese manufacturers. SolarCity focuses primarily on the design, installation, the finance and the management of the system. Though with the high run up on both companies, I would like to see the stocks dip on some profit taking for a better entry price.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
How to Build a Solar Energy System
Science Fair Projects for Kids and High School Students
These 12 sites have hundreds of science fair projects, experiments, and advice to help you create the best science fair project you can. They suggest easy projects for kids and more challenging award-winning science fair projects for high school students. I've used many of them with my daughter and students.
Some of the sites provide ideas. Some give you step-by-step instructions for conducting experiments. Some provide kids advice on creating projects for science fairs. And some have forums where kids can get help when they're stuck. Many of these websites have videos to illustrate their experiments.
Note: Some of these sites have forums, which require registration with an email address. Children under age 13 need parent approval to register and submit questions to these forums.
#1 Science Buddies
Strength: Detailed science projects and advice for kids
I most often recommend Science Buddies to students and parents starting work on a science fair project. This is an award-winning site was created by the Kenneth Lafferty Hess Family Charitable Foundation, and has a wealth of resources.
First is the Project Ideas section where you can browse a list of projects by area of study. Or try the Topic Selection Wizard. You answer a series of questions about your science interests and grade level, then you get a list of projects best suited to your situation.
The projects are very detailed. Each includes the background, questions to consider, a list of required supplies and equipment, and step-by-step instructions for the experimental procedure.
The next helpful resource is an extensive Science Fair Project Guide. Here you'll learn more about how to use the scientific method to build your project, how to write your report, and how to display your work. There is also advice on safety procedures, selecting supplies, and techniques.
Finally, you can go to the Ask an Expert Forum if you need more assistance. Look to see if another student has asked a similar question that answers yours. If you've been unable to resolve your problem with the help of a teacher or parent, this group of volunteer scientists will do their best to help you.
The Science Buddies site is easy to navigate. And and the extent of their resources is incomparable.
#2 Cool Science Projects
Strength: Tips for creating award-winning science fair projects
The folks at Cool-Science-Projects.com will walk you through all the steps of creating a science project. You'll find advice and resources for simpler projects for a homework assignment, as well as advice on creating show-stopper competition projects.
There are lots of ideas here by grade level. A few of the ideas have step-by-step instructions for carrying them out. The site's biggest strength is the section it devotes to advice on creating a winning science fair project.
#3 Steve Spangler's Science Experiments
Strength: Entertaining videos of experiments to spark you own project ideas
Steve Spangler's Science Experiments is a particularly useful website for science teachers and homeschool parents. Steve is a teacher's teacher who is televised weekly in Denver and who has appeared on nationally televised shows, demonstrating experiments and explaining the science behind them. He also conducts teacher training seminars throughout the country.
On this site, you can access his collection of science experiments, recipes and projects. His library of projects is accompanied by videos of how to use materials and equipment to conduct experiments. He also has an online store of supplies and equipment.
Steve's delight in science experiments is entertaining, and he'll get you and your kids excited about their experiments too!
#4 Reeko's Mad Scientist Lab
Strength: Advice for creating a successful science fair project
Reeko is passionate about science. His passion is contagious at Reeko's Mad Scientist Lab. Reeko takes a humorous and engaging approach to getting kids interested in science.
Reeko's focus is science experiments. He does not provide guidance for school science projects. But his experiments are a breeding ground for science project ideas.
This award-winning site has games, puzzles and quizzes. And there is a new forum where you can ask a question if you're having problems with your experiment or science in general.
Videos of experiments with accompanying variation ideas for home experiments
DragonflyTV delves into experiments conducted by kids. The folks at PBS Kids Go! offer up plenty of videos of kids conducting experiments.
Then they provide ideas of variations your children can pick from for their own experiments. Or kids can give the Super Science Spinner a whirl until they find an idea they like. DragonflyTV also offers their 12 steps to science fair success.
#6 The Science Club
Strength: Detailed instructions, videos and illustrations of projects
Science Fair Ideas Exchange provides dozens of ideas for projects and experiments. If you need more than written explanations and illustrations, look here. The site is hosted by Bill Beaty of The Science Club.
Many projects are accompanied by a video that shows the key steps in creating your experiment or device. Projects are categorized as simple, medium and advanced.
Some of the video-taped experiments are hazardous, and should be supervised by an adult or conducted only by science teachers.
The Make It Solar Science Fair Information provides detailed information on carrying out a project using the scientific method and steps illustrated here. For teachers who have a website, Make It Solar provides the code to put the illustration at the right into your site with a link to its science fair info.
You'll also find planning guides, research tips, illustrations of display layouts. The site's focus is solar energy, so they furnish details on how to create several solar energy science projects.
#8 MadSci Network
Strength: Answers to your science experiment and project questions
Created by MadSci Network & Third Sector New England, MadSci Network is a great place to get answers to your science questions. Their extensive questions and answers archive can help you as you build your project.
The MadSci Library provides links to other resources by topic area. Look for answers to common science fair questions at the MadSci FAQ page.
If you can't find an answer in their archives of past questions, submit your own question.
Strength: Kids' comments on how the experiments worked for them
ZOOMsci from by PBS Kids & WGBH has dozens of science activities for children in grades K-8. The emphasis is on having fun with science experiments, as opposed to a rigorous scientific method.
Pick an activity, carry it out, then record your observations and comments on the ZOOMsci site. Personally identifiable information is not collected here.
#10 Scientific Methods at pppst.com
Strength: Lessons to help kids learn the scientific method
Teachers and homeschool parents can make use of the resources for elementary and middle school students at Scientific Methods at pppst.com. There are presentations to use when teaching the scientific method, as well as printable materials.
For kids, there are links numerous resources to help them learn and remember the steps contained in the scientific method.
One of Mr. Donn's greatest strengths is that his material is readable at the upper elementary age level. So adults don't have to do a lot of interpretation.
#11 Hands-on Activities
Strength: Detailed instructions for experiments
At Exploratorium's Hands-on Activities page, you'll find lots of ideas for experiments and science projects. Activities are grouped by topic such as food, living things, or sports science.
Each activity provides a list of needed materials and step-by-step instructions. Illustrations and photos accompany the instructions. A few even have videos.
Note that some of the activities are not true "activities" but rather information on how something, like cycling, works.
If you are making a model of the solar system to scale, you have to take a look at the Build a Solar System activity. There is a scale calculator that uses the diameter of the sun you plan to create to calculate the dimensions for all of the planets and orbit radius of each planet.
#12 Step-by-Step Science Fair Success
Strength: Advice for teachers and schools on organizing a successful science fair
Step-by-Step Science Fair Success is a guide for teachers and schools to use in planning a science fair. Lily Ning, a middle school teacher, discusses:
- Preplanning, sending out letters, and rules for group projects
- Creating guidelines, submission categories, and scientific methodology to be used
- Student tasks in proposing, planning, carrying out, and displaying project results
- Assessment using a rubric and grading sheets for the notebook, paper, and display
- Judging rubric
Directory of Science Project Websites
There are more than 30 science fair project and experiment websites listed in LearningReviews Directory of Science Project Websites. Some of the sites have simple experiments for kids to carry out at home. Others have more sophisticated projects for high school students and science fairs. Kids, parents and teachers write reviews about the sites they like best.
Other Science categories on the site help you to learn more about chemistry, astronomy, biology, etc., as you prepare for your science project.
Get Ready for Your Science Fair with Janice VanCleave
Janice VanCleave is a teacher, scientist and author of award-winning science books for kids. This virtual field trip is hosted on Meet Me at the Corner.org, where you can find more science fair project ideas.