Solar pioneer, Barry Cinnamon, weighs in on the tragedy of Solyndra.
Earlier:The epitaph for Solyndra is significant because of what was not a factor in their demise. It was certainly not for a lack of trying. But more importantly, it was not because of Chinese competition or a lack of U.S. government support.
Chinese solar panels are 10 to 20 percent less expensive than U.S.-made panels; but by some estimates, Solyndra’s panels were 100 percent more. It’s a mistake to blame Solyndra’s problems on our lack of manufacturing commitment or relatively higher labor costs compared to China. Solar panels are commodities being sold on the worldwide market on a $/watt basis — much as aluminum is sold on a $/kg basis. It is crystal clear that cheap and easy to install solar panels are exactly what the U.S. needs to reduce our energy costs and create installation jobs.
For five years or more, the U.S. government was providing support for solar manufacturing in the U.S. The DOE Loan Guarantee program provided critical funding for Solyndra’s manufacturing growth, supported by over $1 billion in private capital. Unfortunately, both these private investors and the DOE made a couple of bets on Solyndra that didn’t pan out.
The first bad bet was that refined silicon, the feedstock for the solar panel industry, would stay expensive. Solyndra invented a solar panel that didn’t use expensive silicon. Unfortunately for Solyndra, and fortunately for all the silicon solar panel manufacturers and customers, silicon has gotten very cheap over the past few years. So the problem that Solyndra solved — expensive silicon — disappeared....MORE
Your Tax Dollars at Work: Goldman-backed "Solyndra shutters manufacturing, lays off workforce; plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy" (GS)
Solyndra: I Forgot to Mention the Company was Also Backed by One of President Obama's Largest Campaign 'Bundlers' (GS; WMT)