Correction, its $535 Millon of loan guarantee from DOE on top of $1 Billion private investment.
I agree, with Patt that the technology should have been proven to be economically viable against the global competitive landscape before its given any public funding.
Many of Silicon-Valley based start-ups filing for bankruptcy points to a weakness in the venture capital eco-system. What can that be?
"If solar is the "Way to Go" then it needs to stand on its own and not require subsides. I question whether the fed government EVER invests properly or if it is politically based selections."
Do you feel the same way about oil? The oil industry gets massive subsidies and tax breaks, not to mention the full force of our trillion dollar international defense industry. Meanwhile China is investing billions into solar.
Both governments are picking a winner. Unless I see you write protesting the oil subsidies then I have to assume that you think the government picking winners is okay--you just don't think that Solyndra is the right pick.
Besides costing American taxpayers $535,000 per job on the front end, it's well worth noting that Solyndra, Spectrawatt and Evergreen Solar produce a vanity product that nobody wants to buy for any other reason than to look "cool;" and, just like LED light bulbs and ethanol for transportation fuel, HAS NO MARKET if it were not for heavy government subsidies.
Oh, and By The Way, fellow EE's, solar cells needlessly duplicate the functionality of rotating machinery that has proven itself over the last 130 years. Rule #1 in Engineering is,
If It Ain't Broke,
Don't "Fix" It.
Bankruptcies in "hot" technology markets, especially those pumped for political purposes, should not be a surprise. Some in the industry foresee a shake-out coming for a variety of suppliers. Some of the Chinese suppliers will likely have the advantage of government assistance, just like some of China's flat panel display manufacturers. It would be interesting to see the party relationships between China's solar manufacturers and to the Chinese military. Sometimes, it's all one big crony capitalist family.
The following article was written before the Solyndra bankruptcy.
"Analyst: Evergreen Solar Bankruptcy is the 'Tip of the Iceberg': Supply glut could cause additional manufacturers to fall"
Duh. Like this was a shock. You build multiple plants in Fremont, CA. You spend money like the government and then you are suprised your costs are too high. I wish I coould have gotten in on that gravey train. When will people step back, away from the hype and use some common sense. The basic technology was sound and their plant was impressive. Where was the board during all of this?
We wanted China to adopt capitalism, and they have. They learned from the best: John D. Rockefeller. China wants to be Standard Solar and just like the founder of Standard Oil, sees crushing competition as a Good Thing. Apparently, anti-dumping laws don't apply to foreign governments.
I haven't looked at recent numbers, but less than 10 years ago, the amount of energy required to manufacture a solar system exceeded the amount of energy that could be extracted from it over its useful life! Under those circumstances, it isn't even environmentally friendly!
Until that problem is resolved, it cannot be cost effective. It cannot compete without subsidy, and subsidizing it doesn't even make sense. The already cited 48 year payback (without subsidy) says pretty much the same thing. By the time you factor in the time value of money and the life of the system, it represents a loss.
Now there are some possibilities to improve the situation. For instance, if the solar cells could also serve as shingles for new construction or roofs needing replacing, ome of the cost and energy that goes into making them could be allocated to that secondary function. Now the combination might make sense. I'm sure there are other possibities, also. It's just that subsidizing something that doesn't make sense on paper isn't going to make it succeed--not for very long.
NASA's Orion Flight Software Production Systems Manager Darrel G. Raines joins Planet Analog Editor Steve Taranovich and Embedded.com Editor Max Maxfield to talk about embedded flight software used on the Mars on EE Times Radio. Live radio show and live chat. Get your questions ready.