Solar Ricardo

Solar Ricardo

Friday, May 29, 2015

What's Going On With Chinese Solar Stocks?

CNN reported today that as Hanergy Thin Film’s stock collapsed last week, Li Hejun, the company’s CEO, was joking with listeners at a renewable energy conference. In the time it took him to give his presentation, his personal fortune had dropped by $15 billion, and his corporation lay in ruins.
Empty Hanergy plant. photo:Bronte Capital

The Hanergy crash was just one of several high profile Chinese solar companies that have made headlines recently…and not in a good way. Recently, in its annual filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Chinese solar PV manufacturer Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd. said, “There is substantial doubt as to our ability to continue as a going concern.” Shortly after the report, Yingli stock fell to an all-time low of $0.72 after closing at $1.49 the previous day.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

18V Ridgid Gen5X Combo Kit Rocks!

For some reason, as I unpack the new Ridgid “Gen5X” tools, I started humming an old song by the 1970s punk rock band Generation X called “Your Generation.” Their vocalist (a young fella known as Billy Idol) snarled:
ridgid 2
There ain’t no time for substitutes
There ain’t no time for idle threats
Actions are rather hard to place
Cause what you give is what you get

Okay, so it may be a bit of a stretch, but as far as cordless power tools go, Ridgid’s new 18 volt Gen5X lines are pretty punk rock! They are a little futuristic looking, but they combine both older and newer cordless technology. Above all, they perform with A LOT of power. Also, like Billy Idol, they seem to go forever! [Read more…]

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Little Utility That Could

Warren McKenna of FEC
Warren McKenna of FEC  

After a full day of presentations from state and local leaders on solar energy at the Iowa Solar Installers Summit in 2009, McKenna presented on a panel along with representatives of investor-owned and municipal utilities. When McKenna took to the podium, he smiled, cleared his throat and said, “Well, I don’t have a powerpoint presentation. But I DO have a feed-in tariff!” The crowd roared with approval.

Since 2008, Farmers Electric Coop (FEC) has been a national model for utilization of solar. The tiny, 650 person cooperative electric utility serves customers in the heart of Amish country and is the states oldest electric utility, but despite its long history, FEC is leading the way into the future. McKenna’s savvy, cost-effective approach to providing clean, locally produced power has caught the attention of much larger utilities across the country, and his start-small, pay-as-you-go business plan has proven to be a hit with co-op members as well as the solar industry.

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Friday, May 8, 2015

Fixing a Book About Fixing Things

I recently picked up a great book from a used bookstore. Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work by Matthew B. Crawford is a fabulous book about what it means to be a person who works with their hands. Ironically, before I was finished, the hardcover edition from Penguin Books began to fall apart. So much for quality construction! A large section came loose in the middle, and then became completely detached from the spine. I’m faced with one of the modern dilemmas that Crawford points out in his book. Do I keep reading the book, letting it slowly fall completely apart? Do I simply throw it away and buy another copy? Or, maybe download an electronic version to my smart phone, perhaps? No, Dammit! I will fix it!

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