Clean Power

Published on September 1st, 2011 | by Glenn Meyers


Showcase Solar Company Solyndra Files for Bankruptcy

September 1st, 2011 by  

Increased competition from China has led to lower prices on solar panels

The renewable side of the energy equation is understandable; the revenue formula isn’t, especially as less-expensive products are introduced to the marketplace…

Solyndra, a California solar panel maker — once a showcase for the Obama administration’s attempt to create clean energy jobs — stopped operating Wednesday as it filed for bankruptcy protection. In the wake of its closing, the closure leaves 1,100 people out of work. It also leaves behind $535 million in federal loans.

According to an article in the Washington Post, over the past two years, President Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu each had made congratulatory visits to the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters.

Solyndra officials said in a news release that they were suspending operations and planned to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. A Chapter 11 filing allows the company time to weigh options, including reorganization, selling the business, or licensing its panel technology to other manufacturers.

“This was an unexpected outcome and is most unfortunate,” Solyndra chief executive Brian Harrison said in a statement. “Regulatory and policy uncertainties” made it impossible to raise capital to quickly rescue the operation, he said, making no reference to the $535 million loan that is guaranteed by taxpayers.

In a statement, the White House said the news is a disappointment, however, “the Department of Energy’s overall portfolio of investments continues to perform well and is on pace to create thousands of jobs.”

Wednesday’s announcement came amid a broader shakeout in the solar industry. Energy Department officials said that less expensive solar panels made by government-subsidized companies in China undercut Solyndra’s products.

For consumers, the drop in PV panel pricing will be welcome news.

Photo: tonynetone


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About the Author

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers was editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributing writer for CleanTechnica, and is founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.

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  • Pgtruspace

    Venture Capitalists often push a new operation into bankruptcy to give the creditors a hair cut and get the assets back for pennies on the dollar. In this case it looks like they are trying to collect a $535,000,000 gift from Uncle Sam! Not a bad return for helping the Obamanation. pg

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  • Anonymous

    For the clueless folks below who think solyndra’s failure was due to Obama, i recommend this piece:

    & if you’re also clueless on solar, HIGHLY recommend this one:

  • Jon_K

    Is it really cheap Chinese panels (Chinese subsidies are real and substantial) or is this a cover for some other failure. I wonder if their super-high tech factory might have been problematic.

    Here’s a little perspective, however. The total subsidy here is less than one day’s worth of the Iraq war. It’s a waste but chicken feed when lined up next to our other grand fiascos. F-35’s anyone?

  • McChalium

    Actually, any industry supported, even partially, by government subsidies has a fundamentally fatally flawed business plan. Look for more “clean energy” companies to go belly up as the goernment finally realizes it can’t afford to prop them up along with many billions of taxpayer losses to go with it. All governments should stay out of the business of “business” since they are all,in fact, incompetant in that field. I, for one am not surprised.

    • Jon_K

      Do you realize the fossil fuels industries get billions in subsidies? Here’s an article about oil

      The EIA says about $500B for oil + coal:

      Agriculture too ($10B – $30B/ year)

      Do you realize we subsidize Texas cotton farmers and Brazilian ones too because they raised a stink about the Texas subsidies and were going to put tariffs on other American goods?

      Do you know we have a huge tariff on ethanol from Brazil to protect midwest corn farmers?

      The harsh reality is tariffs and subsidies are the norm not the exception everywhere in the world. Everyone is against them except for the ones the ones they like.

      But to put the whole thing in perspective, one, just one day of our mideast wars costs about $700M. That’s a Solyndra a day and $200M change

      • Anonymous

        Thanks for chiming in. It seems a lot of folks don’t realize how much fossil fuels & ag get in subsidies (or just don’t care bcs they have an agenda)

  • Laudenslager1

    Any one want to guess who profited from the 1/2 BILLION loan?

  • sally

    Students cant get out of their loans, even if they die. And companies that payed their CEO’s good money for several years, can walk away. Fuck This Shit.

  • Howard L. Allen

    Taypayers pay $500,000 to create a job for a couple years. This is the kind of business decisions a community organizer makes.

    • Sam

      I believe you are missing a few zeros. $535,000,000

      • Tharkey

        I think he meant $500,000 per job (1100 jobs)

  • Anonymous

    When is this country going to get out of the business of business. Did anyone really think that Steven Chu knows how to pick a winner. The smartest Venture Capital minds in the country wouldn’t touch this lemon and he drops a half a billion of other people’s money into it.

    • joe

      They got over a billion from venture capital firms…

      • Anonymous

        And once all the environmental guilt driven money was exhausted they couldn’t raise additional capital to fund a clearly failed business model so they had to land a half billion dollar investment from the federal government.

  • Obama doesn’t have a clue on how to run a business much less a country.

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