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Solar City SCTY is the better stock than TSLA

I have been in scty for a week and love this company.
Now there are only two stocks I own scty and tsla

Thanks Elon!

I believe in the MS/MX and TM - but the photovoltaic industry, sorry - I struggle. This is on paper nice and sweet but - technology is soooo behind, and cost soooo high and investment to energy sooo poor.
I cannot see how this can be sustainable. Politically correct, for sure and tons of money being thrown into it. The opportunistic investor can probably do great here. But when I don't understand the business, its model and its long term potential - sorry. Not for me. I want to try to understand, but don't. And if it doesn't work, stay away.
But, maybe it is me...?

If you would like to know the company, here is the link

Solar city is not like the other solar companies like solyndra or others; they are actually a UTILITY company like PGE with ONLY 3 Billion market caps. There are huge growth ahead of them.

GeirT, what you are saying is what they said about Tesla a few years ago ;)

I think you are behind the facts. Solar PV can produce power for about the same price as offshore wind nowadays. But the technology is still progressing rapidly, faster than wind technology. Especially in remote areas in for example India, the pickup is accelerating because it is cheaper than diesel generators (the grid there is clearly not what we're used to in Europe or the US). It has reached grid parity for consumers in many western countries. Here in The Netherlands people are waking up and many of them are installing solar panels.

You ain't seen nothing yet.

btw I'm both in SCTY (got in @ $15) and TSLA (got in @35). A 'thank you Elon' is in order I guess.

scty up 28% today

I live in New Zealand where there are no solar incentives. I am installing a solar system which will provide all my power. I pay for all of the costs but it will still be fully repaid in 7-10 years. After that I get all my power for free. Solar PV is now a 'no-brainer' in many places in the world.

I think there will be huge advancements in the solar industry, but as this happens, it will benefit SCTY further. This is because SCTY doesn't actually make the panels. They deal with the energy that is generated based on them. So if the price of the panels drop, they make a bigger profit... or reduce the cost to the customer.

In the long run, I think both companies have a long growth ahead of them. I'm just getting a bit nervous with both right now, due to the huge increases lately. Don't know if this will hit some sort of psychological barrier and cause a drop in prices or not.

The case for solar in most parts of the world is clear and government incentives make the business model more compelling. The issue is barrier to competition - there is none. I looked at SCTY and found 3 other direct. Competitors. So it's all about execution since there is no technology involved (tesla does have tons of technology innovation). Since Elon is involved its probably not a bad bet.

My SC home system goes in next month! Hopefully home Li batteries are next, so I can tell my power utility to go Fuc% themselves!

Hahaha tikiman!

Well, this thread is prescient: Elon just tweeted that SolarCity is valued at $3.39 trillion by Google.

It seems even I have been too convervative. Solar power is starting to reach absolute grid parity

One of the hidden regulatory "gotchas" that are externalized solar costs is the legislated obligation (in WA, e.g.) to give purchasing priority to the "renewables" (after defining hydro out). This causes conventional plants to have to throttle back and cuts revenues, artificially hiking their costs, or even causing closures. The table is far from level, still.

Talking about 'level playing field'. Let's by all means not mention the externalised costs of fossil fuels.

What is Elon's stake? 13% or SLT? That makes him worth $440bn or so. :0

@ Andre-nl

Good you see the business model here. And I will be happy to see it too. But solar and wind as of today are completely in la-la land cost wise, compared to coal, gas, not to say nuclear and hydro. Sorry, it does not add up. But - I am receptive and will be happy to be convinced that I am wrong. My money is for the time being going into TSLA and battery technologies - and Thorium of course ;-)

GeirT - The solarcity model is they install the PV system for free. Take care of all paperwork for free. All you need to do is pay the same amount for your electric bill for 20 years. It is transferable to the new owner if you sell your house.

The solarcity bill will be lower than your current utility bill for 20 years (or more).

Solarcity has a current market of 14 states. Billion dollar contracts with the government (public schools, municipal buildings, military homes and installations currently.

All this is reoccurring payments for 20 years. Each new contract just adds to revenue. It's an accumulative business model. The more that sign up for the leasing program, the more near iron clad revenue comes in. The number one bill that gets paid, even before the mortgage, is the electric bill. Very safe revenue stream to securitize, thus, obtain more funds to buy more systems to lease to more customers. Accumulation, or scaling, is the name of the game here. This business model almost makes it a certainty that it will. I don't know what the number is (maybe 10 years), but once they pay off a certain percentage of the systems, they own them outright. Then it becomes nearly all profit. Maintenance is low on the PVs and they can produce energy for maybe 100 years.

This is the big picture win here. This is going to be a massively profitable company. You just have to forecast some numbers and you will quickly see this is a fantastic investment opportunity. There are many other reasons to like this company, but the bottom line reasons are clear to anyone with a pulse.

In addition, they will begin offering energy storage units. Like a Tesla 60Kwh battery to store your PV energy, so at night you power your house and not have to utilize the grid power at all.

There currently are solar city pilot groups testing these energy storage systems.

The significance of this is as Solarcity scales with their solar lease programs, they could begin to offer these battery storage to their current customers on a large scale as a natural step to further reducing their utility bill. As a matter of fact, there is a possibility they could include it in the lease program at a certain point.

Imagine if they get up to a million customers with just the PV leases, then the battery system comes online and ready for market? It will be a transformation of our energy consumer almost over night.

Imagine how that would affect our need for all other forms of energy generations (hydro, nuclear, coal, nat gas, etc...) Energy creation and consumption pretty much sets the price of everything, so how would this affect our economy? This, to me, gets very interesting. The ripple effect is tremendous.

Vs. coal, gas, nukes, etc., have a look at for another order of magnitude cost improvement. Yes, I know that means 10X. It gores a lot of oxen, though. Funding is thus thin on the ground.

Brian H -- maybe fusion in 20 years to replace hydro, gas, nukes, etc... as a back up to distributed solar power generation. See it as a primary power generation solution for industrial level uses. Not for home and business which will be overwhelmingly solar. Solar is practical, safe, personal, and available right now for a monthly fee less than your current grid utility bill. (in Solarcity markets)

GeirT -- It's also funny how SolarCity will beat it's yearly guidance of 250mwatts deployed by the end of Q2 low estimate @251mw). Had 157 at year end 2012. They completed 46mwatts in Q1 and expect to complete 48mw (low end estimate) by Q2. Also is cash flow positive already (500m from GS). Said this would happen by Q4. Exceeded expectations by two quarters.

To me, this seems to be a thriving business with continued exponential growth. Profitability is not an effective metric to measure it as a good investment at this time. I think many are starting to see this.

Solar is Fusion

with even minimal funding (~$2 mil.) to push the experimental rig to unity, another 3-4 yrs of engineering should see a prototype license-able design. It will be made available at very reasonable cost to manufacturers world-wide.

Complete unit would fit in a standard shipping container. $250-300K. 5 MW 24/7/355 (a few days per year for servicing and refueling.) Instantly "dispatchable" (ramp up or down). Stand-alone with remote monitoring. Housing radiation at b/g levels within 9 hrs of shutdown for maintenance.

About 2-3kWh/¢, including principal financing, profit, and staffing, etc.

I still struggle with the sustainability of the photovoltaic approach with current generating efficiency, overall cost and reliance of subsidies.
That said, hail all efforts to produce energy clean. Don't misunderstand me on that. The stock market also appreciate what SC is doing. My point is that as I see the very viable sustainable TM business model, thus justifying the recent surge. I consider the SC stocks less so.

I wonder how dependent SC is on inflated FITs.

Brian, afaik the only place in the world where inflated FIT's exist is Japan. Solarcity does not operate in Japan. Since SolarCity only operates in the US, I think they don't depend on FIT's at all. The only incentive they depend on is net metering.

An inflated FIT is any payment over the utility's cost of generation at that time of day. Anything higher, and they are losing money which comes out of other users' or taxpayers' pockets.

GeirT, don't focus too much on efficiency. Standard panels are now between 15 and 20%. The first steam engines were, iirc, 3$ efficient. Cars barely managed to break the 20$ barrier in the past decade or so. My simple reasoning is: if it works, it works. That's all I need to know.

If you want to focus on a metric, the more important one is EROI (energy return on investment). FirstSolar is leader in that respect with something like 40. Each kWh of energy used during production will yield 40 kWh during the useful life of the panel. More common crystalline silicon panels are between 5 and 20. According to Argonne lab, gasoline has an EROI of 4.

So you always get much more energy out of PV than you put in and PV handily beats oil already.

For consumers across most of Europe the price is now around EUR 1.50-2.00 per W installed, incl. VAT, no subsidies. Depending on where you live a W of installed capactiy generates between 0.7 and 1.5 kWh per year. (Eg. Netherlands & Germany is 1, Bavaria 1.1, south Italy or Spain 1.5)

I believe you live in Norway? Electricity seems to be very cheap there and each W of installed capacity will probably yield only 0.7 kWh per year. So the economics there are not good. But in other places in Europe there is more sun and more tax on electricity. So things are very different there. In warm and sunny places where there is a mid day demand peak (and consequently, a price peak!) due to A/C, PV is a no-brainer.

Look at the history of the car: Can you believe people drove those expensive, unreliable, hand-built, hand cranked, noisy, smelly, slow. uncomfortable, impractical early automobiles? But each new generation of cars was a little better than the previous one and so they slowly progressed to what we have today. If it weren't for those pioneers, you wouldn't have your Tesla today.

PV technology today is far from perfect, but in all its imperfectness, it already has a practical use for many people in many places. The more the technology progresses, the larger that group will become. PV will improve in leaps and bounds the coming decades. Don't focus too much on today, what lies ahead is far more interesting.

Brian, no, a FIT is not any subsidy or incentive, but a specific form in which the producer gets a fixed price for energy over a fixed period (mostly 20 years). The US PTC is not a FIT, since it still exposes the generator to fluctuations in the energy price.

Investors are allergic to uncertainties, and so they will charge a big markup for those risks, making renewable projects more expensive than needed. The FIT greatly reduces the uncertainties for the operators and therefore the financing costs.

In many cases, these FIT's are not payed out of taxes but through a per kWh surcharge (like in Germany). So your tax dollars are safe ;)

@ Andre-nl

You show great enthusiasm and have very good points, and know your stuff. The Norwegian case is part of this though my perspective is global, and as an investor in global stocks. I'll keep my contrarian mind open to the photovoltaic advantages SC included, however - I don't see the business logic yet thus I leave my hard earned cash for other investments, TM for example (that by conservative investors also is a daring venture).

Guys, my comment was not to argue for the sake of argument, just to air my opinion on what was raised. I respect any decision anyone makes in this respect and obviously I am in a minority as the SC stocks skyrocket. Shame on me for not getting in early, as I did on TM :-)

Anyway, let's conclude that regardless of opinion on this, it is good for the game changing disruptive auto-industry technology we see paving out in front of us. As is also helps local noise and particle pollution, the world is finally moving a step or two forward regarding people moving.

Reading the links I see that Goldman Sachs is going to securitize the solar leases,(sell them as investments),which is fine, let's just hope they get it right this time. I see SC is publicly publishing the contracts (good for transparency and standards ).

If I understand correctly, GS will bundle these contracts into an investment with a +/- 8% interest rate, (achieved through a tax break) for people with high taxes.

This is great, it will provide needed capital and speed up installations tremendously. Let's just hope GS gets the investments' risk properly rated this time by the ratings agencies. I wonder what the rating will be, AAA, AA, A, BBB etc?

And I hope, for the investment, the solar panel lease contracts have proper risk management controls such as insurance for hurricanes, abandonment of homes , other risks, etc.

Previous mortgage investment problems were improper sales; unqualified applicants; hidden contract gotchas; improper government rules, regulations & requirements; non existent & improper government law enforcement; various improper relationships & conflicts of interest; failure of fiduciary responsibilities; poor legislation through political donations; etc; etc. Let's not repeat those mistakes.

In other words the banks have to get everything right this time, (as opposed to mortgage note securitization). And perhaps the Musk group of people have the integrity and values to facilitate that process along and set a great example with SC.

That said I noticed that these solar panel lease investments seem to depend on a 30% tax break. How exactly does that work, and is it at political risk of being reversed ? Technically the tax break is not a spendinding of taxes, but a tax break, the money never goes to Washington. Does SC stock have a plan if the tax break is repealed ? Will the cost of solar panels keep going down enough to make up the difference if the tax break is repealed?

Finally, I think SC's ideas are good for the energy sector, although we still need the grid. And new competition will have to be cheaper as well as clean, as this idea from Lockheed Martin and their famous "Skunk Works". LM claims it will be ready by 2015.

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