The solar power industry has taken a bad beating lately, and a big part of the problem is a glut of polysilicon, the basic building block of solar cells, on the market. GT Advanced Technologies (NASDAQ:GTAT), headquartered in Merrimack, N.H., makes polysilicon and, like the rest of the sector, its shares have been hammered.
The stock is off more 30% for the first half of 2012, but it’s not necessarily down for the count. For one thing, the key to survival in the solar market is to produce high-quality poly at low costs, and GT Advanced thinks it has cracked that nut.
The company’s new HiCz technology is forecast to improve the efficiency of photovoltaic cells by up to 24%, all while based on current technologies and at hardly any increase in costs. That’s the sort of breakthrough the industry needs.
More important, GT Advanced has responded to the glut in solar technology by expanding the company into other promising areas. Indeed, nearly half its business now comes from serving manufacturers in the burgeoning LED lighting industry. GT Advanced is ramping up production to provide parts for everything from electric cars to cell phones.
Innovation, be it in solar energy or LED technology, is as American as you can get. If the company’s bet on diversification pays off, it’ll be good news for shareholders and its 600-plus employees alike.
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As of this writing, Dan Burrows did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.