I heart Norway

From th TJ this morning:

Executives revealed Thursday the company plans to spend $700 million on a facility with the capacity to produce an annual output of 5,000 tonnes of polycrystalline silicon – a base material used to make solar panels. Umoe Solar has also committed to building a solar research centre in the capital city where more than 30 employees will be working once the company ramps up New Brunswick operations – in 2012 or 2013.

This is great news.  I think Norway should be a target market for us.  While everybody runs like lemmings to other more sexy markets for invetsment, maybe we should be more niche and pick countries like Norway.

What amazes me, however; is something like the Umoe plant is considered an abberation.  Like Michelin in Nova Scotia.  A one time deal.

The province should tick off Umoe and be on to the next project.  We need 10 Umoes a year or more around New Brunswick.

10 thoughts on “I heart Norway

  1. This is the first industrial good news out of New Brunswick in a LONG time. Since no doubt others will bring up the Bricklin example, the question to be posed is whether the $2.9 million and BNB ‘donation’ is meant to be part of the $5 million research facility or the $700 million project. If they want to have $5 million in research and $4 million of that is coming from government then I’d be suspicious. Anybody can ‘propose’ a 700 million project, but if you can’t afford the $5 million then whats going on?

    I researched UMOE AS and only found a very incomplete website, no sales or anything like that. The wafer market is VERY competitive, but even with those outstanding questions its a very positive deal. Bringing the researchers to NB is a good move in and of itself, NB is WAY behind on solar research. The other issue is the wood allotment issue. Its unfortunate so many mill workers lost jobs, but if as many trees are lost for this deal, that makes no sense.

  2. Great news eh? Could you explain, in simple terms of course, how an economist could reach that conclusion?

    China’s Photovoltaic Industry: Exporting On the Cheap

    In the wake of the global financial crisis, global demand for PV panels tanked. Major markets like Germany and Spain decreased their solar subsidies. International polysilicon prices dropped from $360 per kg in October to $180 per kg in November 2008. In 2009, the price slid further to $120 per kg in February, $100 in March, and as low as $50 in July. Many predict that the price of polysilicon may fall to $30 by next year.

    Many manufacturers have large stockpiles of polysilicon with few orders. With the current production capacity of over 60,000 tons and the expected capacity of 140,000 tons in 2010, a glut is in the making. Global demand for polysilicon in 2010 is expected to be just 80,000 tons. The whipsaws in the market have left many Chinese PV producers in bad shape. More than half of the manufacturers have begun limiting production and some have gone bankrupt.

  3. The good news is that the global recesssion isn’t expected to be permanent. Relatively low oil prices aren’t expected to be permanent. The good news is that IF this company is thinking of developing a 700 million processing plant then perhaps they know something we don’t. The prices certainly haven’t ‘tanked’, you still can’t buy them that cheaply, although certainly cheaper than before. Also, besides production they are looking at developing research expertise, another welcome addition. And finally, this IS New Brunswick, which means any time ANY investor wants to set up shop, thats good news. The price of cranberries is also volatile, but that doesn’t mean the Pepsi investment in central NB isn’t welcome. Of course like I said, it depends on whether the company is going to come in saying “we have a 700 million plant-so long as your government provides 650 million”.

  4. UPM-Kymmene sale to Umoe Solar finalized
    Jan 16, 2009 | In Mill Sales/Transfers | Send feedback »

    UPM-Kymmene’s sale of its New Brunswick assets to Umoe Solar was finalized yesterday.

    The Finnish forestry company has surrendered its Miramichi paper mill and groundwood pulpmill, along with sawmills in Bathurst and Blackville, as well as its woodlands operations to the Norwegian solar panel manufacturer.

    Neither side is revealing the price of the sale.

    A Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman said that with the sale now finalized, the Crown wood allocations for the Bathurst sawmill — totaling 152,356 cubic metres — will be immediately transferred from UPM to Umoe Solar.

    The rest of the former UPM Crown licences, meanwhile, will be operated by the province.

  5. Consider China. They want Energy! They sell their Photovoltaic production to the naive buyers and build coal power plants! Seems our expertise is in pyramid schemes! Still!
    Now I have spent time at a, not virtual, but real house, supplied by Photo-Voltaic panels and battery pack and converter system! Plus propane, wood and auxiliary diesel generator.
    Make sure you have enough wood if you want toast! Figures versus real life. China seems to have the figures.
    Umoe Solar seems to also though! lol

  6. Translation:

    It’s like “Titanic 2” Jens Ulltveit-Moe’s “reverse”, and is now planning its largest program ever.

    Published: 26.03.2009 – 06:44 Updated: 26/03/2009 – 07:34
    Investor Jens Ulltveit-Moe went in two billion on the sale of the tankers, but mess up the gain on gold and spirits. Now he is planning major investment in a solar power plant in Canada to $ 4.5 billion, writes Dagens Næringsliv.

    Jens Ulltveit-Moe says his Umoe Group had been through a terrible bad year.

    – But I have certainly been reduced my wealth significantly. The only way to do it is to lose the capital or moving abroad. I do not move abroad to save taxes. Therefore, unfortunately, the second radio news, “said Ulltveit-Moe to DN.

    Ulltveit-Moe: – I am stupid
    Langer out to share brokers

    The true faith
    Ulltveit-Moe has gone from the ranks climate opposed to a frightened and green investor.

    – Climate crisis is very serious. We have only seen the beginning. It provides great business opportunities in alternative energy. After I was converted to the true faith …. I became interested in climate question after reading Foreign Affairs in the 80’s. In the 90s, I followed the Economist, and when I had doubts about whether global warming was manmade. So I was questioning, but really quite skeptical. I saw it as propaganda from the left side, as a disguised way to change society. But eventually it was obvious that something was going on. I read the reports from the IPCC and put me into the scientific basis, “said Ulltveit-Moe told the newspaper.

    Then he was frightened.

    – This is frightening. This is not some gærninger on the left side. If the trend continues, the parts of the world will be uninhabitable in 100 years. It’s like “Titanic 2”. We know there is an iceberg up front, but so far there is no danger. We are only concerned that the drinks should not be cold, “says the prolific investor.

    Sun King
    Now Ulltveit-Moe, a large project in the works.

    Umoe Solar purchased in the winter a paper mill and a forest area of 170,000 goals and operation of the ten million goal from the Finnish UPM in New Brunswick on the Canadian east coast. The plant will be demolished to make room for solar cell production. The share of the value chain from production of silicon for solar panels Umoe Solar will take part in, is at present uncertain.

    – We have no hurry to build. The construction will get started about a year or two, “says Ulltveit-Moe, who makes it clear that the lending market must work for the project to fruition. Price: 600-700 million dollars, up to 4.5 billion.

    – Demand for solar cells in the United States will grow dramatically. California is a pioneering state. There is the sun, “says Ulltveit-Moe to DN.

  7. Translation of Jens, Umoe owner.

    Jens Ulltveit Moe Photo: Åserud, Lise / Scanpix
    – In the bubble times do you do stupid things Stor owner Jens Ulltveit-Moe has giganttap on their investment in gold company Crew which is now likely to seek bankruptcy protection.
    Published: 02.09.2009 – 05:53 Updated: 02/09/2009 – 08:39
    On a bondholders’ meeting yesterday afternoon, voted investors in one of the three loans for to say no to the restructuring proposal. All loans had to say yes for the proposed rescue plan should have been implemented, writes Dagens Næringsliv.

    Crew has a bond debt of 1.9 billion, of which most are due this year and next.

    Read also: Curl for Crew

    The dream burst
    – Refinancing Plan has fallen. It is extremely difficult for us. It is clear that the company can not meet the debt falling due, “said Ulltveit-Moe to DN.

    Crew-chairman Ulltveit-Moe is now considering the probability of bankruptcy protection in Canada, where the company is registered as highly probable.

    – Yes, this is so messy now. I think it can be quite heavy. I had hoped to save the pieces, but the dream crashed this afternoon, “said Ulltveit-Moe.

    Ulltveit-Moe describes his investment in the Crew as a “disaster”. He has an unrealized loss of over a billion kroner.

    – In the bubble times do you do stupid things, “he told the newspaper.

    Manager Kristian Falnes in Skagen Funds have turned down the proposed rescue plan, together with the second investment fund Borea.

    – The proposal is submitted, is too unbalanced. It is a good rule to treat as owner, says Falnes.

    Falnes said Skagen is not reluctant to do about the debt into shares, but it must in that case take place in changing conditions

  8. Good posts, but not sure if they are meant to have a conclusion. This is stuff we already knew-namely, that if a guy is going to build a 700 million plant, then he’s going to need some money. This is actually MORE good news, because creditors don’t typically invest in proposals that don’t have clients.

    But again, this is NOT nbtaxpayers site. We know government is going to invest at some level, in fact they SHOULD be investing at a level beyond Lepreau. Graham keeps talking energy, yet only seems vaguely interested in this proposal, leading to the conclusion that he’s not so interested in energy, but in Irving and nuclear. Lepreau is going WAY over time, probably over budget. In forestry, corporations have been bankrolled by the province for decades, and Irving even gets bankrolled for their LNG terminal.

    That again brings up other questions, like what is their plan for their woodlot allotment? It can’t be any worse than UPM. But actually the above posts actually make the investor sound better, not worse. That the guy has ANY money after the financial meltdown is miraculous. And if it weren’t for that proposal, the Miramichi would have a decade of looking forward to seeing a derelict mill as a grim reminder of the good old days, and if UPM were anything like Irving, they may even get stuck with the cleanup.

    As for solar cells, they were never meant to provide ALL the power, but read history, its not like one day people invented ‘electricity’ and nothing has changed. ALL forms of power have gone through years, more like decades where their efficiency was increased. There’s no denying that particularly in years like this, where most days are cloudy, the average family isn’t going to get enough power from solar. That’s the whole reason for the research, again, even better perhaps than the production. Money goes from government to industry, we know that, so in comparison with Atlantic Yarns, the Caissie Populaire, and Atcon, this is VERY good news. And rich investors tend to know OTHER rich investors.

  9. I agree this is one of a very few new ED accomplishments (along with Ocean Spray). At least it is not a bail out of a poorly managed company or pavement and tourism information booths promoted as “economic development”.

    However, there is some merit with the cautionary tone of the above posts. Manufacturing silicon material is not novel or unique and has been done for many years. Does UMOE have an angle for a competitive advantage or are they simply a late comer that will reinvent the wheel and compete on price? Additionally, keep in mind they have not committed to manufacture cells, nor panels. They are manufacturing the raw material (basically bars of material that are later sliced into thin “cells” that are soldered together to make panels). Because cells and panels are fragile, they tend to be assembled close to the end user to avoid transportation damage. So, the energy intensive, nasty by-product production work takes place here and the skilled-labour intensive panel assembly will take place in the sunbelt of Arizona and California.

    Don’t get me wrong, I welcome UMOE to the ‘chi and sincerely hope they are successful and a major contributor to the economy. However, some hard work remains to maximize the benefits for New Brunswick. Maybe the next investment we should make is research in effective transportation of solar panels.

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