(Solar story updated for LDK's after hours announcement of earnings data)

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- A final chapter in the long battle over solar feed-in tariff reductions in Germany should come to an end in April, according to an update from FBR Capital Markets' solar research team.

After several months of back and forth between bickering parliamentary factions in Germany, and lobbying efforts from a variety of interested parties linked to solar subsidies, it would seem that everyone would welcome an end to this fractious period for solar companies.

The most important news is that FBR Capital Markets' sources don't expect any major changes from this point forward in the parliamentary process (though we have been down the road of not expecting changes previously).

Next Monday, March 15, the executive board of the two biggest parliamentary power brokers in Germany -- the Christian Democratic Union and Christian Socialist Union -- will meet to discuss and pass the draft amendments of feed-in tariff adjustments, FBR sources in Germany indicate.

The 16% cut for rooftop solar and 11% cut for ground-based solar on contaminated land have already been agreed upon in federal cabinet and by the coalition government in parliament.

FBR noted that the only proposed reduction subject to change at this point is the complete elimination of farmland-based solar. It is still going to happen, but local sources are telling FBR Capital Markets solar research team that there may be "a possible extension of the July 1 phase-out of agricultural land projects as these projects often take longer time to get approved by local authorities and have longer construct timeframe."

First Solar ( FSLR) is expected to feel the most pain from this tariff elimination, and therefore, any softening of that pain would benefit the U.S. solar bellwether stock. First Solar's shares have risen this week, from Monday's share price in the range of $109 to over $113.69 at the close on Thursday.

An important element of the feed-in tariff changes that was not evident at the outset of the political fight is expected to move ahead: an accelerated decline in the FIT if 2010 solar installation exceeds 3.5 gigawatts (GW) -- otherwise known as a soft cap on solar.

On the solar panel's flip side, if German installations slow to a rate lower than 2.5 GW in 2010, the reduction in FITs may slow also.

FBR Capital Markets noted that on March 25 or March 26 the adopted amendment is expected to be read in parliament for the first time and another hearing is scheduled on April 21 with the government's environment committee.

There are clearly numerous parliamentary procedures to go, but FBR expressed confidence in the basic form and scope of the FIT reductions. "We think these are cosmetic timelines and major amendments will not be changed," FBR analyst Mehdi Hosseini wrote.

There is one wild card left in the political mix: FBR says that the German solar industry lobby is still meeting with Horst Seehofer, a local CSU leader in Bavaria, where there has been the largest resistance to the FIT changes, and the CSU already engineered several concessions in the proposal not originally wanted by Germany's environmental minister.

"We do not think Seehofer has sufficient power or influence to overturn what leading party members even within his party have already agreed on," FBR's Hosseini wrote.

Regardless of the last wildcard, and the actual parliamentary protocols, the solar sector could be getting back to normal --whatever the new normal is -- by the end of April.

There have been some indications that the solar sector is getting back to normal already. For example, LDK Solar ( LDK) rose close to 10% on Wednesday on elevated trading, and for no apparent reason.

Yet after the market close on Thursday, LDK finally provided a date for its earnings, to be released on March 30.

LDK revised --ever so slightly -- its expected ranges for revenue, wafer shipments and module shipments. LDK expects revenue in the range of $300 million to $310 million -- in line with Street forecasts.

LDK expects wafer shipments between 330 MW and 340 MW, and module shipments between 20 MW and 25 MW. LDK previously forecast revenue in the range of $280 million to $310 million, wafer shipments between 320 MW and 340 MW, and module shipments between 20 MW and 30 MW.

The public solar company closest to LDK in profile, ReneSola ( SOL), reported weaker than expected earnings on Wednesday, with raw materials and wafer pricing exacted a toll in the fourth quarter.

LDK was up by 2% in after hours trading after it released its earnings forecast with the narrower low-end guidance.

LDK, not renowned for the reliability of its forecasts, was quoted in the press on Wednesday also saying that solar would ultimately come to represent 60% of the world's energy production.

Since solar visibility is hard to provide even for the second half of 2010, providing visibility on the solar sector's growth over the course of several decades was another sign of "good ole solar" on Wednesday, at least as far as some of LDK's past missteps might indicate.

One solar executive who won't be around for the long-awaited end to the FIT drama in Germany is the former CEO of Germany solar giant Q-Cells, Anton Milner, who quit on Thursday.

The potential winners and losers as a result of the feed-in tariff reductions in Germany are yet to play out, but Q-Cells' Milner took Q-Cells recent losses on the chin on Thursday, taking full responsibility for a record loss in 2009.

Q-Cells lost $1.84 billion last year, and with many solar experts arguing that the FIT reductions will further handicap Germany solar companies, Q-Cells future remains unclear.

It will be up to Nedim Cen, the current CFO of Q-Cells, who is taking on the CEO slot as well, to lead a restructuring of the German solar company.

Cen comes from a corporate restructuring background and has been with Q-Cells for half a year. He will be officially introduced as Q-Cell's CEO at an annual news conference on March 24, and is expected to talk about restructuring and divestiture of non-core Q-Cells assets.

-- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.


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