Nanosolar follow up: investing point of view

Nanosolar claims to have some big advantages over other solar-cell manufacturers, such as SunPower, China-based Suntech Power (NYSE: STP), and DayStar Technologies (Nasdaq: DSTI). Nanosolar’s process doesn’t use polysilcon, so it doesn’t have to compete for the limited supply that SunPower and Suntech use as the foundation for their solar cells. And compared to DayStar, which makes non-silicon-based, thin-film solar cells, Nanosolar’s manufacturing process should be a lot easier.

Eetimes analysis suggests that new automated polysilicon based solar celll plants would not cost $1 billion to make a 400Mw plant. So Nanosolar’s $100million to produce 400MW per year is at the top end of where its commpetitors are also trying to go. Solar-cell providers are in production or building next-generation 150- and 200-mm factories, which cost about $100 million. These factories are highly-automated “autolines” that produce from 200- to 500-megawatts per year.

Each factory could produce 70-to-180 million wafers a year, or roughly 8,000-to-20,000 wafers per hour. The capital cost for a solar-cell plant is projected to be around $0.50-per-watt, although the industry is attempting to spend “half of that”.