Solar Company Solyndra Shuts Despite US Loan, Obama Praise

Wednesday, 31 Aug 2011 03:32 PM


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U.S. solar start-up Solyndra LLC said Wednesday that it has suspended operations and plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, 15 months after U.S. President Barack Obama visited a company factory that was to be expanded with the help of government dollars.

Solyndra, which said it could not compete with bigger, overseas rivals, said it was evaluating options, including a sale of the business and licensing its copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) technology.

About 1,100 employees are being laid off effective immediately, Solyndra said in a statement.

A company spokesman said the bankruptcy filing would likely come early next week in Delaware.

The announcement is the latest in a series of disappointments for Solyndra, whose fall from grace has been tracked closely because it was the recipient of a $535 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy in 2009.

The company also made headlines in May 2010 when Obama paid a visit to the company's Fremont, California, factory.

Solyndra was the first company to receive a loan guarantee under an advanced clean energy program created in 2005, and the Energy Department came under criticism last year when the company postponed plans to expand the Fremont factory, cut jobs and withdrew plans for an initial public offering.

At the time, the company faced intense competition from Chinese rivals.

This year, however, that rivalry has intensified as a global glut of solar panels has sent prices down dramatically. Even industry heavyweights are struggling to preserve profits, while several small, up-and-coming solar companies have found it impossible to stay afloat.

Solyndra's announcement comes a little more than two weeks after U.S. solar company Evergreen Solar filed for bankruptcy. Evergreen had once been seen at the forefront of U.S. renewable energy technology and had planned to produce its solar wafers in Massachusetts. Ultimately, however, even a plan to shift manufacturing to Asia could not save it.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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