It was yet another failed experiment at Intel. There are so many of them: ASICs, supercomputers, communications ICs, PCs, fault tolerant computers, DRAMs, NOR flash, etc. Now, it's solar. I am not surprised. More comments?
Ultimately a thin film low temperature printing process is going to win out. Silicon is the mainstay right now, but the writing is on the wall. Maybe Intel realized that and did not have the expertise for the future. That, and Si solar being a commodity business.
Solar is not quite a truly commodity business yet. There are still innovations coming out of the labs, but the results of those innovations are going to be fed to the manufacturing lines being built elsewhere. Intel's mistake was opening a fab line instead of a research facility.
How does the Intel technology compare with current and emerging competitors? It seems that from time to time there are reports of breakthrough technologies that improve collection efficiency or decrease manufacturing costs. Clearly such a development, if true, could disruptively displace competing vendors (unless they could license and manufacture the new technology panels on their production lines cost effectively).
Good comments. Has this in fact been confirmed? If so, it looks like the comments here have a lot more insight than there was in setting up the plant. Shutting down after only a few months is really a tough blow for the employees and the area.
Good comments. There seems to be a lot more insight in the comments here than was apparent in the opening of that plant. Looks like a waste of some grant money and it must really be painful for those losing their jobs after only a few months.
How not to be successful in solar:
1. manufacture in NY
2. build a non-differentiated product
3. rely on deep pockets of your parent company
4. don't have the ability to scale at a competitive cost point
This was a really bad idea from the start and somebody did not do their homework. Shame on Intel!
It's likely someone finally decided to run the numbers and it became evident that they would never turn a profit.
Making solar cells is largely a commodity business. It shouldn't be a high-risk investment. Either the numbers add up or they don't. The problem starts when you get VCs involved. They almost never consider profitability or technological viability; instead they seem to always focus on popularity of the technology, profile of founders, and lately its impact on global warming. In fact US VCs act as if their running a charity for Green Peace. Asian VCs tend to stick to business fundamentals. This is probably one of the key reasons that the US is rapidly loosing its technical edge in every technology sector including "green" technologies such as solar panels, batteries, electric cars and the like.