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Patk0317
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Patk0317   8/31/2011 5:49:59 PM
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Gee $535 Billion of our (U.S. Taxpayer)money down the drain ... and another 1,000 people out of work. Perhaps they should have perfected the technology and manufacturing process and gotten some customers before they ramped up and burned through all that money.

UdaraW
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
UdaraW   8/31/2011 10:22:43 PM
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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?

Salio
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Salio   9/1/2011 1:30:23 AM
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Maybe the public funding should be tied to the startups getting potential customers lined up or at least the the funding be given in some intervals so it can be gauged where this company is going.

bigchin
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
bigchin   9/1/2011 6:23:08 PM
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I don't think it has anything to do with Chinese fab. Solyndra spin off it So Cal business as and India operation with cash. Our government should go to after the Solyndra-the India sub

jg_
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
jg_   9/1/2011 11:46:01 PM
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Can you clarify that ? Any links ? Are you saying there is an India spin off in here somewhere ?

Robotics Developer
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Robotics Developer   8/31/2011 6:10:42 PM
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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. I am troubled by the loss of 1000 jobs, and wondering if the business plan ever made sense for this company (or if the Taxpayers got taken for another ride)?

walken1
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
walken1   8/31/2011 7:53:32 PM
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If memory serves, the federal government was a major financeer of the early semiconductor and FPD industries. I admit that solar technology has been around for several decades and can hardly claim to be an "early" technology. But government investment in solar has been very minimal until very recnetly, and the total amount of investment pales in comparison to the subsidies (in the form of tax breaks) that the oil industry - among the most profitable - has taken in over the years.

Steve Knapp
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Steve Knapp   8/31/2011 9:45:42 PM
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Funny you should mention the semi and FPD industries. The Chinese are still heavily investing in these technologies. It's amazing to see the progress made by some of the Chinese LCD manufacturers.

Patk0317
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Patk0317   9/2/2011 9:10:05 PM
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One of the times the government invested wisely was for the Space Program in the 60's. It has been said that a side effect of the race to space was jump starting the semiconductor and integrated circuit industries about 10 years sooner than without that investment in research. (Not too mention Orange Tang, smoke detectors, fogless goggles and other products that came out of NASA research).

BicycleBill
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
BicycleBill   8/31/2011 6:44:52 PM
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There is little evidence to support the "absolute" statements in this article: "The company's problems do not reflect on the potential of its emerging copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) technology or thin film approaches" and "There's nothing fundamentally wrong with CIGs or thin-film technologies". That's the kind of stuff we get from investors and stock promoters, looking to prop up their holdings at the front window as they try to bail out via the back door! Yes, call me cynical.... I'd say the fact they couldn't compete with less-glamorous existing approaches says there may be drawbacks to the technology, or the way this technology serves the market. At the least, these statements needs some qualification or questioning. It's often the case that an older, more-mature approach is easier to make, better suited, better understood, cheaper, or better fits the needs of the users (in this case, installers), and the new approach just doesn;t offer enough of an advantage, when you put all the pieces together.

NimrodO0l1
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
NimrodO0l1   8/31/2011 7:48:04 PM
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There is much wisdom hiding in your last paragraph. It reminds of the situation in the late 80s. A friend working for a semi equipment company told me that they had big orders from about 20 companies in Southeast Asia many with government backing. Seems their business plans were to capture 20% of the fab market. Having advanced math skills, he calculated that 20%20% was 400% of the market. Shortly after that, the Semi Equipment market (and a lot of the world) ran into big problems. I am wondering if the CIGS startups are actually unfortunately playing the same game, but with two slight variants. 1) The worldwide market for CIGS at CIGS's price-point is a lot smaller than they believe. 2) Everybody is funding CIGS (and the rest of solar) in order to create jobs AS THE PRIMARY MOTIVATION. With China sitting down at this poker table with a whole lot more chips (pun intended), it seems likely most other players will go bankrupt before we find out if there is a real market. (That is, solar gets to cost-competitive.) An interesting point for me is GE bought a solar company, CIGS-based I think, a few months back. Since they might be considered more interested in making money that creating jobs, it might be a good indicator of whether this is going to fly. I thought Intel bailing on SpectraWatt was a fairly strong bad sign, given that they also like to make money. But, SpectraWatt, I think, was standard solar and Intel may have followed one of their early rules: If you cannot be #1 or #2 in a market, bail. Many reasons for this at Intel, but biggest is that #1 and #2 get economies of scale and #3... have crummy profit margins at best. The article did mention that China may get 60% market share...

bigchin
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
bigchin   9/1/2011 6:26:14 PM
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I have not hear any Chinese solar panels are allow to sell in Cal.

chanj0
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
chanj0   8/31/2011 7:15:01 PM
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There is nothing wrong with the technologies; yet, it can't compete with $1.20 per Watt solar panel manufactured in China. Mints said "This is not healthy for the industry because profit margins are just too low; CIGS is very hard to manufacture—it's complex and there's no real standardization for it yet." Cost ultimately is the driver of getting the market. A government subsidized will drive the price down. Maybe, that's the reason Chinese made Solar panel can be sold in lower cost. Yet, sooner or later, Chinese government will cut the subsidiary off and the companies have to be able to sustain its operation with the revenue. It is sad to see a clean tech company going down. I hope the Chapter 11 will just help the company to get out of trouble and re-organize itself to compete in the market. We need better energy.

dirk.bruere
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
dirk.bruere   8/31/2011 9:12:51 PM
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By the time the Chinese cut subsidies, they will own the entire PV market. Also, China is heavily involved in installing PV in their own nation.

bigchin
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
bigchin   9/1/2011 6:27:19 PM
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Why? If they are not allow to sell in Cal.

Lee_E
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Lee_E   9/5/2011 3:20:32 PM
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China doesn't own the market yet. The US is a net exporter for solar equipment on the order of $1.9 billion. Our solar balance of trade with China is in our favor by almost $250 million. That $1.9 billion positive trade balance is all the more impressive given that it was less than half ($723 million) a year earlier. It sad to see comments that basically say we should give up China has the market.

NimrodO0l1
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
NimrodO0l1   8/31/2011 8:12:24 PM
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Just went to the Oregon Solar site and ran some numbers. (All of these ignore Time-Cost-of_Money) 1) Without subsidy, installation of Solar appears to have a 48 year payback period. 2) With standard federal, state and local utility subsidies, payback is about 8 years. WHICH makes it very interesting. Especially if you think utility-based energy will cost more... 3) With a special program that was available here every six months, payback would be about 3 years. This program involved signing up for a limited number of slots starting at 8:00 AM. Slots were gone in about 10 minutes. They are now revising the program. Perhaps, the interesting points are: a)Installed cost of solar is still way outside reasonable. b)Improving those costs by a factor of 6 gets us to a market that at least some people will consider. (My guess is that this is larger than the Prius market, but economy is bad enough to distort my guess.) c)Improving by a factor of 2 or 3 makes it a no-brainer. BTW: Oregon gets about 90% of the incident solar energy that Los Angeles does. For fun: So if Moore's Law applies, solar becomes cost-effective in Oregon about 0.3 of a year after it does in LaLa Land. BTW: I do not think Moore's Law applies to installed cost for standard solar. Way too much stuff ain't silicon. Maybe THE LAW applies to CIGS (and things like ink-jet printed ...). Assuming Rare Earths (did someone mention China...) do not set a cost floor below the part that can be shrunk via silicon savings.

dirk.bruere
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
dirk.bruere   8/31/2011 9:14:54 PM
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The bottom line for PV generation is land cost and the metalwork. Every other cost heads towards zero with a variant of Moore's Law

Tim_H
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Tim_H   9/1/2011 1:18:49 AM
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Here is where you can calculate in excruciating detail. . . http://www.sunearthtools.com/dp/photovoltaic/payback_photovoltaic.php . There are now lots of solar lease to buy companies that you just call up give them your adress and they check using google earth and give you a quote on how much you will save per month (or not). No money down etc. They maintain/monitor via the web and guarantee a minumum energy per month.... Elon Musk of Paypal/solarX/EV cars etc founded this one : http://www.solarcity.com/media-center/management-team.aspx

Tim_H
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Tim_H   9/1/2011 1:37:38 AM
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The interesting thing about payback period for a home roof installation is that you need to right size the installation, so you only supply a baseload level of power and get the rest from the grid. This gets you a much lower overall cost with a shorter payback. This is how the lease to own PV companies optimise the installation for you.

NimrodO0l1
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
NimrodO0l1   9/1/2011 3:50:56 PM
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Umm, my figures above were for a 2.5KW system. A big chunk of the subsidies in Oregon phase out just above that wattage. Right-sizing for me would be about 4KW. But the extra 1500 Watts would cost about 4 times more.

JLS
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
JLS   8/31/2011 8:57:25 PM
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This is just like the Chinese cornering the rare earth metals market. Undercut the competition and drive them out of the market, then raise the price or restrict access. They have the Chinese government to back them as long as necessary to get everyone else trying to make a profit out of the business. Then they can charge the real prices they want. Its a matter of who can outlast whom. In this case, deep pockets alsways win.

DarkMatter0
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
DarkMatter0   8/31/2011 9:07:45 PM
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Deep pockets and very few environmental, safety or labor regulations...

Mxv
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Mxv   9/3/2011 2:00:59 AM
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Chinese dumping products? No way! Really? Oh my gosh!

AKilter
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
AKilter   8/31/2011 9:00:47 PM
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$535 Billion of our (U.S. Taxpayer) money with another failed Obama-sponsored pet-project. Wake up America! If solar were a viable energy source it wouldn't need subsidy. I wonder if Obama will apologize for his optimistic remarks he made at the plant's opening.

JLS
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
JLS   8/31/2011 9:38:16 PM
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This was mis-quoted, it was $535 Million, still not a drop in the bucket. No appologies are needed since the idea was still correct.

Saturn1
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Saturn1   8/31/2011 10:33:40 PM
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correction: That's $535 millions NOT billions.

Tim_H
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Tim_H   9/1/2011 1:30:09 AM
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Alt energy is an imature industry which still needs seed momney, the 10'sB$ subsidies to traditional Fossil fuel companies, Nuclear Industry every year are what are no longer needed and tax payers should not still be subsidising. After 50-100years in business these industries should stand on their own.

walken1
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
walken1   9/1/2011 6:17:52 PM
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Well said.

Mxv
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Mxv   9/3/2011 2:02:35 AM
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What Obama tried to create jobs? No way! He's a socialist, he must have been trying to take jobs from the rich and give them to the poor and middle classes.

Wilton.Helm
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Wilton.Helm   8/31/2011 9:32:06 PM
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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.

Tim_H
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Tim_H   9/1/2011 12:21:54 AM
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The numbers you quote may have been true 20yrs back, but the energy payback period for even home solar PV got to be well under 5years a long time ago. For CIGS maybe under 1 year. See this old ref for example and the quote below : www.nrel.gov/docs/fy04osti/35489.pdf "Energy payback estimates for rooftop PV systems are 4, 3, 2, and 1 years: 4 years for systems using current multicrystalline- silicon PV modules, 3 years for current thin-film modules, 2 years for anticipated multicrystalline modules, and 1 year for anticipated thin-film modules"\ TH

NimrodO0l1
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
NimrodO0l1   9/1/2011 3:55:39 PM
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Just to be clear, I assume you are talking about the period to pay back for the energy used in manufacturing. A useful rule of thumb: Final 'retail' cost is about 4 times the manufacturers cost to produce. So, your four year worst case is not inconsistent with the 48 year payback given that the full cost includes a whole lot of other stuff.

dirk.bruere
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
dirk.bruere   9/1/2011 4:00:24 PM
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One off retail costs of PV modules can be as low as $1.40 per Watt: http://solarbuzz.com/facts-and-figures/retail-price-environment/module-prices

cthughes
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
cthughes   9/2/2011 2:45:59 AM
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Holy Cow, I just read your pdf link. Why does a consumer care about energy to produce vs. energy output over a lifetime? How about total cost to the consumer to purchase and install (and no you can't deduct subsidies) vs. savings to consumers. You also have ask how much is PG&E going increase rates if they are not selling as much electricity. They still have to maintain existing plants. I would suggest that if they sell less and have the same overhead, then rates will go up.

Lee_E
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Lee_E   9/5/2011 4:10:59 PM
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Adding solar will help PG&E and other utilities. There are existing plants that need to be retired. New solar generation will reduce the capital investment the utilities will need to make to replace them. When talking about the effect of pending regulations the CEO of PG&E and eight other utilities wrote "The units retiring are generally small, old and inefficient. These retirements are long overdue."

Code Monkey
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Code Monkey   8/31/2011 9:34:11 PM
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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.

RM001
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
RM001   8/31/2011 9:36:58 PM
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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?

Mxv
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Mxv   9/3/2011 2:04:44 AM
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Yes, they should have built their plants in China. Why hire Americans with tax-payer dollars?

Steve Knapp
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Steve Knapp   8/31/2011 9:43:13 PM
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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" http://www.industryweek.com/articles/analyst_evergreen_solar_bankruptcy_is_the_tip_of_the_iceberg_25381.aspx

dgreigml1
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
dgreigml1   8/31/2011 10:05:29 PM
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thorium! Jeeweez!!!

Brakeshoe
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Brakeshoe   8/31/2011 10:19:55 PM
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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.

Mxv
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Mxv   9/6/2011 2:34:10 AM
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Right. Let's wait until the Oil runs out. Then we can go back to older proven technology like Ox carts and buggy wagons. Good Idea.

tb1
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
tb1   8/31/2011 10:19:57 PM
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"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.

Steve Knapp
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Steve Knapp   8/31/2011 10:56:14 PM
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Um, have you been watching China's actions in the global petroleum industry? How about the China/Iran oil barter? How about the newly launched Chinese aircraft carrier and its potential impact on the South China Sea? The South China Sea is chock full of international territorial disputes and potentially full of oil and gas. Personally, I like solar, particularly solar-thermal power generation. But, I don't want to put all of our eggs in the solar-electric basket. We should be actively pursuing ALL commercially-viable energy sources.

dirk.bruere
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
dirk.bruere   8/31/2011 10:59:16 PM
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What China is doing is subsidizing the PV industry so that when it is commercially viable they will own all of it.

Steve Knapp
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Steve Knapp   9/1/2011 1:14:00 AM
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Funny, that didn't seem to work for the U.S. in televisions, semiconductors, oil exploration, LCD panels, etc., etc.

bigchin
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
bigchin   9/1/2011 6:37:48 PM
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So as us. Please ask how much Uncle Sam is subsidze the PV. The main cost difference is our land cost and regulation cost not PV cost. With Fed and state sub we can also get a PV for free. How about Chinese? I heard they pay about $1/W for PV and $0.50 for equip after subsidze their Chinese PV. There is no sub for US made PV which is costed about 2X more than local PV in China when I try to export to China.

Tim_H
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Tim_H   9/1/2011 12:36:29 AM
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The old dirty Energy industry is one of the most highly subsidised in the US, with tax subsidies going back a 100years with annual subsidies according to the OMB, of at least $4Billion. The alt energy investments have been trivial in comparison. See: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/04/business/04bptax.html .... "An economist for the Treasury Department said in 2009 that a study had found that oil prices and potential profits were so high that eliminating the subsidies would decrease American output by less than half of one percent. “We’re giving tax breaks to highly profitable companies to do what they would be doing anyway,” said Sima J. Gandhi, a policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, a liberal research organization. “That’s not an incentive; that’s a giveaway.” Some of the tax breaks date back nearly a century, when they were intended to encourage exploration in an era of rudimentary technology, when costly investments frequently produced only dry holes. Because of one lingering provision from the Tariff Act of 1913, many small and midsize oil companies based in the United States can claim deductions for the lost value of tapped oil fields far beyond the amount the companies actually paid for the oil rights. Other tax breaks were born of international politics. In an attempt to deter Soviet influence in the Middle East in the 1950s, the State Department backed a Saudi Arabian accounting maneuver that reclassified the royalties charged by foreign governments to American oil drillers. Saudi Arabia and others began to treat some of the royalties as taxes, which entitled the companies to subtract those payments from their American tax bills. Despite repeated attempts to forbid this accounting practice, companies continue to deduct the payments. The Treasury Department estimates that it will cost $8.2 billion over the next decade. "

cthughes
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
cthughes   9/2/2011 1:29:12 AM
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Well, this is a little of topic but...the federal government allows tax deductions for all businesses. One of those deductions is through depreciation. Oil industry is NOT receiving any deduction that any other similar business can't utilize. Business deductions are the backbone of capitalism. If you can't deduct expenses, then the company is taxed on profits used to purchased equipment and the company that sold the equipment is also taxed. This would be a double tax and would bring down the entire US economy. As for oil, I would also like to point out that the federal and state governments TAKE significantly more profit from the sale of one gallon of gas than any of the oil companies make. It seems to me that the oil companies would do just fine without any gov't involvement. In fact, they would expand and HIRE if the gov't would get out of the way. When you're done designing a circuit don't go home and watch Rachel, try reading an economics book.

subman
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
subman   8/31/2011 10:31:27 PM
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Complaining about China government subsidies without looking at the US govt subsidies is a bit hypocritical. If I'm reading the various news articles correctly, we (US taxpayers) subsidized Evergreen with low cost guaranteed loans of several hundred million $'s, and similarly for Solyndra something like $500M. Highly unlikely the US govt will see those loans paid back. The big difference here is that the Chinese companies had something of a viable business plan, whereas the US companies had very good lobbyists and politicians who were receptive to crappy business plans that fit with ideological politics. At least the US taxpayers got a glorious Taj Majal along the freeway in Fremont. Perhaps it could be turned into a Sunday worship site for the church of "true believers in green energy at any cost".

Brakeshoe
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Brakeshoe   8/31/2011 10:51:42 PM
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From the studiously fair National Journal at: http://www.nationaljournal.com/energy/biden-bad-economy-right-time-to-invest-in-clean-energy-20110830 LAS VEGAS--The Obama administration is trying desperately to head off what many economists say is a coming crash in the clean-energy industry. To make the case, Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday equated spending on clean energy during a recession to spending on crucial weapons and technology during a war, previewing a theme likely to recur this fall as the White House and Democrats try to save what’s left of the federal clean-energy budget. [cut] In the next year, the small but growing U.S. clean-tech sector, which President Obama sees as crucial to transforming the nation’s energy economy, will face a trifecta of challenges: Roughly $30 billion in federal spending the industry enjoyed in the 2009 stimulus law will come to an end; the congressional panel charged with slashing $1.2 billion from the federal deficit this fall will likely target the government’s existing clean-energy tax credits, subsidies, and research funding; and new energy policies that Obama once hoped would spur massive market demand for renewable energy—such as a national clean-energy mandate or a price on carbon pollution—will be halted in Congress with a Republican-controlled House. (more)

Brakeshoe
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Brakeshoe   8/31/2011 10:51:53 PM
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“Big clean-energy projects that have relied on a combination of federal tax incentives, subsidies, and loan guarantees are almost certain to see that go off a cliff this fall,” said David Victor, an energy-policy expert at the University of California (San Diego). “It’s going to be a big problem for the industry.” Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus joined Biden and Reid for the energy summit, a gathering of alternative-energy advocates that for the past three years has set the table for the congressional clean-energy agenda. The leaders sounded a defensive note, acknowledging that the industry’s government support is under attack, and urgently sought to make the case to keep clean-energy spending even as other government programs are slashed.

gutieaphd
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
gutieaphd   8/31/2011 10:59:50 PM
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Solar Panel Makers Spectacular Collapse: A monument to delusional subsidies provided by wishful politicians; a reminder that the market crushes anyone without a value proposition that compounds truthful profits. Deploying solar was only real because of massive solar subsidies by Germany, Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal and the US. Aside of Germany, all the other countries have seen their public debt downgraded or are on the edge of it. Is there a message on that observation for politicians playing to be VC/PE investors with our children's future taxes?

Tim_H
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Tim_H   9/1/2011 1:03:53 AM
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"A monument to delusional subsidies provided by wishful politicians" ... The "wishful" Chinese politicians just seem to have targeted this market more succesfully than our politicians have. The nice thing about the European subsidies is it helped establish a big enough market that competition has finally driven prices to viable levels even without subsidy. Same is true for wind. Deploying Nuclear plant is too risky for private corporations, so they have to have massive govt loan and disaster insurance guarantees..... The loan gurantees and seed money for Alt energy has been trivial in comparison to all these mature industries that should have stood on their own decades ago. In the case of Solyndra,Brightstar and many of the new energy sources the VC's have actually put up a lot of capital. Silicon Valley would not exist if it were not for the cold war,space program and the associated huge govt subsidies/seed money for semi-conductor technology for missile and other systems.

cthughes
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
cthughes   9/2/2011 2:11:58 AM
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Tim_H, that's just absurd. If the government doesn't do it, then it can't be done? Silicon Valley exists because of the reward for investment that didn't exist in other countries. It also exists because of the plethora of R&D universities in the U.S. that anyone can attend. Education can even be free if you are committed and it doesn't require a grant from the NSF. Regardless of the gov't involvement, companies like Intel, Apple, and Google would still exist in some form. It's just insulting to every prominent engineer and inventor to say that we need(ed) government. Has it ever occurred to you that if the gov't didn't suck up 18% of the economy that we would have more investment for revolutionary products ? Put a dollar sign on how much gov't funding went into legitimate Ethernet research. Are you really suggesting that no one would ever invest in this? I would argue that it would have been created anyway (albeit at a somewhat later date) for much less expense. Inventors existed long before gov't funding.

chuxcomments
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
chuxcomments   9/1/2011 12:23:52 AM
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It's a shame about Solyndra. Sounds like they were a victim of being too soon with the technology and predatory competition. It's a tough world, getting tougher with China, Inc. As a Bay Area resident and Silicon Valley fan, I'm used to the "1 out of 10 make it" model and occasional major flame outs; WebVan comes to mind. Last time around, at least George Bush waited to trash the Valley model on his only Bay Area visit after Wall Street destroyed the Internet revolution. We can only guess how many jobs were lost were lost when investment dried up overnight, but perhaps today folks only like the "sure thing" jobs. Too bad the Internet never panned out as advertised and thank God for all those who "told us so". Now, we get trashed on innovation before we even get off the ground. This will all even out. As the middle class grows in China they'll get wealthy and request higher wages just as it happened in Japan and Korea. Then, if we're lucky, maybe our new risk averse culture will produce our own set of competitive low wage workers and Chinese kids can giggle at the cute, round eyed bobbleheads stamped "Made in the USA". Sometimes I'm not sure the rest of the country deserves Silicon Valley.

Steve Knapp
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Steve Knapp   9/1/2011 1:37:24 AM
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It's a basic mischaracterization to say that the Chinese are investing primarily in solar. The Chinese are prudently investing in a broad spectrum of potential energy solutions including solar, wind, hydro, coal (some with carbon capture), nuclear, thorium, etc. The Chinese are smart enough to know that solar cannot solely supply their energy needs. Solyndra is but one business failure in an overhyped industry. Other companies and technologies will emerge, assuming that the capital is available. It should also be noted that one country is running budget and trade surpluses while the other is running massive budget and trade deficits. These policies do have consequences.

cthughes
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
cthughes   9/2/2011 2:18:23 AM
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China is building 30+ Nuclear Plants :)

Mxv
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CEO
re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Mxv   9/3/2011 2:10:37 AM
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China has a thousand year plan to dominate the world. Short sighted wall street capitalists will be left in their dust.

kdboyce
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
kdboyce   9/1/2011 1:40:41 AM
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One thing is for sure: If you don't reach for a goal you won't get it. Solar energy will have its place, as will LED bulbs. Mistakes are made when we characterize these things with rhetoric instead of facts going into the game rather than 20-20 hindsight when we fail. A key problem for solar is that for most of us the energy source is available directly to us only half the time and that is the top end estimate. So unless there is a suitably large enough grid connected array spread over all the country, it will have little measurable effect on our overall energy demands. A similar, but more serious problem exists for wind farm power generation. Subsidies are necessary in certain circumstances (Example: rural electrification projects under the USDA in the 1930's) but I would prefer the subsidy for the widespread deployment of proven rather than speculative technologies. As for China 'cornering' the market, I put as much blame on us for our energy short sightedness as I do them for seeing and acting on what we should have done quite some time ago. The question now becomes: What do we do about it? And do we have the guts to do it?

Patk0317
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CEO
re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Patk0317   9/2/2011 9:14:27 PM
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The trick is being able to transport the energy with out losses. Death Valley might be a great location for a solar farm, but if you cannot get the energy to population centers reliably and easily it is pretty useless.

Mxv
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CEO
re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Mxv   9/6/2011 2:39:57 AM
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We already import hydro-electric power from Canada. That's what electrical grids are for.

PHW_#1
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
PHW_#1   9/1/2011 2:19:35 AM
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Biggest and most profitable solar company in the world today is still a US solar company - First Solar, they perveil because 1) Technology, 2) Cost competiveness 3) Right management strategy. 1) doesn't mean it can survive if 2) is basically doomed. US$1.5B, even so called China governement backed solar companies did not spend so much money when there is no mature product/market for their special product. The whole world is giving out incentives for solar energy and solar companies, it doesn't exclude US companies. US governement doesn't give much incentives as compared to other leading countries as of today. US companies need to be "competitve" in every aspect. The same standard for every industry not just solar. A lot of counties spend less than 5B in incentives and create at least 50000 jobs in solar area alone. We should ask what's wrong with our governement. Money has been spent, but where is the job?

GroovyGeek
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CEO
re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
GroovyGeek   9/1/2011 2:27:50 AM
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"People will make simple assumptions based on this one case and that’s unfortunate because they should not" Oh, simple assumptions like "there are at least a dozen companies in the US alone in a market capable of supporting at most two", or "a p-i-n junction is a p-i-n junction is a p-i-n junction and all that matters is cost, it makes more difference than a measelly 0.25% improvement in efficiency", or "where exactly is the recurrent revenue in all this to support the gazzilions startups and companies chasing an economically unfeasible solution"? Every few months for the past 3-4 years I have been getting pinged for this or that solar opportunity. I have declined them all on the spot on the theory that we are in a massive overinvestment. I may have been early, but not wrong :-)

pixies
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
pixies   9/1/2011 2:13:11 PM
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This sound more like a failure of the business model, not the technology. They should have targeted niche market first and expand slowly to give their product time to mature and gain market recognition. Hope this will not scare away the wannabes to continue innovate in the solar field.

Code Monkey
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Code Monkey   9/1/2011 3:28:52 PM
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$1.5B is a lot of funding to burn through and go bankrupt. Meanwhile, some engineer is developing the Next Big Thing in his garage, unable to get funding.

tb1
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
tb1   9/1/2011 11:40:21 PM
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Looking at a Google translation of a panel test: http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.enbausa.de%2Fsolar-geothermie%2Faktuelles%2Fartikel%2Fdas-solyndra-modul-schneidet-beim-test-schlecht-ab-1317.html&sl=de&tl=en&hl=&ie=UTF-8 it looks like Solyndra had some major disadvantages, except for when it snows. So, like pixies said, it is a failure of their particular business model.

jg_
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
jg_   9/1/2011 11:44:04 PM
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The Solyndra concept looks sound, but they may have suffered from over-funding ? Half a billion dollars, can flip management into lottery mode, and believe their own PR. It is telling that a quick scan of their Website, finds lovely photos, and PR fluff, but NO actual Watts/metre2 values, and no mention of production yields, or trends you expect from a company on top of their game. Some press release info, suggests they only managed to average 4W/module, and revenues were OK, but certainly did not match the cash inflows. Someone selling a roof-top solution, with a low W/metre2 value, is going to be in REAL strife when higher yield alternatives come along. A roof is a finite area, so $/m2 will be increasingly important going forward.

elPresidente
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Freelancer
re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
elPresidente   9/2/2011 10:11:44 AM
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Solyndra was a snowjob right from the start. Its demise has nothing to do with China but is a failure in its technology and cost attributes. BS only goes so far before it runs out of steam, and the sucker VCs who invested in it hyped it, pumped that bubble up, spread their losses with taxpayer money, until nobody bought the story or its non-viable product design. It's sad that they ate VC money that other startups could have been successful with.

elctrnx_lyf
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Manager
re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
elctrnx_lyf   9/2/2011 10:35:48 AM
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It makes me feel bad to see that even a US government investment wing is not able to correctly assess the business model of Solyndra before releasing the funds into the market. Some one should be held responsible for this. People not having jobs is better than having something temporary ray of hope and followed by a disaster.

chipmonk0
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CEO
re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
chipmonk0   9/2/2011 5:19:46 PM
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CIGS is a multi-phase material for which developing and maintaining a narrow window of chemistry and microstructure in the deposited layer are key to maintaining optimal conversion efficiency. This is much more difficult than materials like tri-junction semiconductors ( deposited layer by layer by slow and expensive MBE ), simpler compounds like CdTe ( First Solar ), or good old PV grade doped Si ( the current favorite in China ). Although NREL ( DOE's Lab in Boulder, CO ) routinely reports conversion efficiency for CIGS exceeding 16%, these are for small lab samples, not HVM. None of the early starter Co.s ( some hyped just as much as Solyndra ) in CIGS on flat substrates have managed much over 11 % even at quasi-HVM. CIGS still requires much more honest "academic" type research before jumping to HVM. Obama does not believe in homework but merely looks for quick fix PR stunts. His hyping Solyndra ( perhaps hooked by the "novelty" of tubes rather than panels, or as some say by a Party funder from Oklahoma ) and giving them a 1/2 billion + loan guarantee was part of this pattern. Meanwhile DOE run by his man Chu makes you jump through multiple hoops

Mxv
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CEO
re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Mxv   9/3/2011 2:15:45 AM
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Right. Republicans don't believe in PR stunts. "Mission Accomplished"

chipmonk0
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CEO
re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
chipmonk0   9/2/2011 5:22:29 PM
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(cont'd).. for even 200 k$ grants for basic research on PV materials !

Mxv
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CEO
re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Mxv   9/3/2011 2:20:37 AM
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The current political debate is that Obama did not do enough to create jobs. Bailing out the banks and GM didn't save jobs. Investing in new technologies, didn't create jobs. Only fat cat Republican CEOs can create jobs. I know how to create a few jobs -- throw some of these crooked Wall Street bankers and their insider tipping CEO friends in jail. Let's call it a "Jobs for Jailers" program.

ibm221
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
ibm221   9/5/2011 6:56:56 AM
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a couple of hint for president. He need a pareto chart of jobless population and see what kind of industry will help. ie. if all jobseekers are uneducated it won't make sense to invest in hi-tek.

Chee Choy
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Chee Choy   9/3/2011 8:58:12 AM
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I am still skeptical about the solar energy yield from the solar panel technology already mature to use, seem to me the energy from the solar panel still not that good for technical reasons. China invest so much on this, built and set up more and more solar panel sites, is not a wise move. Recent years built so many high speed electric trains, end up there were flaws. End up needed to redesign and test again its basic safety function. This is a failed project I look at it. I do not have the confidence to take this high speed train without proven just like the solar panel, is better to wait and see till it is matured.

RADIONEWT
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Rookie
re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
RADIONEWT   9/3/2011 11:47:21 AM
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I don't get it? Maybe Solar energy is practical out west but in the northeastern states it's a little more than a novelty to most users. Are Power company's going to invest into a source that depends on the weather without Federal subsidizing? China will continue being a leader in this technology because of slave labor and Americas' willingness to buy all the junk they ship over here.

Jack.L
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CEO
re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Jack.L   9/6/2011 2:24:03 AM
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Solyndra failed not because: - CIGS is an inherently poor technology - Crystalline silicon is an amazing technology - Terrible management (ok, debatable) - Obama or any other Democrat ... cause you know Republicans never promote a mistake ... Solyndra failed because it did not have an effective cost reduction road map. It is an inherently more complex product than crystalline silicon solar panels which when Solyndra started where realistically near early part of their cost reduction phase. There were numerous ways that crystalline silicon could be reduced in cost starting with scaling up production, and numerous other ways. Solyndra's product is (was) complex. CIGS manufactured inside tubes ... lot of tubes, that needed to be sealed, connected together, etc. Solyndra's mistake was not realizing the quick potential for crystalline silicon to be reduced in cost and their inability to match that price reduction rate (or to ever match it for that matter).

Mxv
User Rank
CEO
re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
Mxv   9/6/2011 2:45:53 AM
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Where can I buy the Solyndra patents? I'd like to squat on them for 20yrs like the oil companies who are "researching" solar energy.

subman
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
subman   9/6/2011 8:23:49 PM
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It's all a conspiracy by evil oil companies, even though solar displaces coal and gas. Maybe you meant coal and gas companies. Let's all be sure to keep our aluminum foil hats on so the the cia can't read our minds from their satellites.

WW III
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re: China's solar rise seen in Solyndra's fall
WW III   9/7/2011 4:21:46 PM
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I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Mojo of the building at the corner of Kato Rd. and Paige. History is not good WW III



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