Not So Sunny for US Panel Maker Solyndra
Major solar panel maker Solyndra is shuttering one of its major production facilities-just seven months after it announced plans to expand production in the U.S. Coming on the heels of Solyndra's announcement in June that it would defer its stock offering, this is a particularly galling blow to Solyndra and the prospects for solar manufacturing in the U.S.
Solyndra received a half a billion dollars in federal aid to build an advanced robotic factory. As the San Jose Business Journal comments, "A half billion in federal aid apparently hasn't been enough to help the Fremont company that President Barack Obama visited in May, touting a green policy agenda."
The New York Times reports that Solyndra is a victim of Chinese completion and the closure of the Solyndra facility is "a sign of the notable shift in the prospects for cutting-edge American solar companies, which now face intense price competition from Chinese manufacturers that use more established photovoltaic technologies."
The Times interviewed Solyndra's CEO who "noted that the market had undergone a significant shift since Solyndra filed for the stock offering, with solar module prices plummeting as low-cost Chinese manufacturers like Suntech and Yingli ramped up production." As the Times notes, this Chinese competition "has put pressure on companies like Solyndra, which makes advanced thin-film solar modules that are less efficient than conventional photovoltaic modules but had been cheaper to install until prices began to fall sharply last year."
We hope that there is a future for solar module manufacturing in the U.S., but the market is very price sensitive. What does the future hold? According to greentechmedia, "We know what the solar industry thinks. Solyndra will collapse is the general opinion. But it still has a single factory. In some long-shot scenario, something good could, maybe, one day, come out of this."