This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

8 Bold Questions for Solar Stocks in 2012

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Solar investors, welcome to another year of agony mixed with ecstasy (with the former looking to trump the latter again in 2012).

There wasn't much fun in 2011, but the year did provide us with many thought-provoking issues to which investors hadn't previously given enough attention.

To get the solar panel rolling, here are eight bold, possibly reckless -- if not at least provocative -- questions that will define the fortunes of solar companies this year, and maybe for several years to come. From the future of U.S. solar manufacturing to consolidation and bankruptcy in the Chinese solar sector, the looming global trade war in the sector, and even to the sad topic of Solyndra, there is plenty to discuss.

In fact, while 2012 may be the last year in which Solyndra gets headline play, it's a good place to begin our questioning since it may be one of the early headlines for solar in 2012, a New Year's hangover for the sector.

1. How much will the federal government recoup from its $528 million Solyndra investment?
Those who followed the Solyndra story closely will remember the rationale provided by the Department of Energy for why it allowed the Solyndra loan to be extended to a total of $528 million before pulling the company off life support.

The DOE argued this is standard venture capital practice: You build out a manufacturing plant to its full capacity even if it might go bankrupt because that build-out will allow you to get more money back in the event of a bankruptcy. It's some tortured logic, and though it may be the truth in the venture capital world, there are still plenty of people who doubt that this logic will be proven true in the case of the Solyndra auction. The auctioneers are hopeful, some skeptical solar analysts much less so.

From class A corporate office square footage to helium leak detectors and robots, we will know soon enough, with an auction of some more Solyndra assets scheduled for February 22 (subject to bankruptcy court approval). You can see what's left to buy of the former solar Camelot here.

Solyndra, of course, is at the heart of the debate over whether the U.S. should even be in the game of solar-panel manufacturing. It's a good place to segue into our next questions:

1 of 5

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 16,979.13 +59.54 0.35%
S&P 500 1,986.51 +4.91 0.25%
NASDAQ 4,526.4820 -1.0320 -0.02%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs