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Big Solar Goes Bankrupt

A look at the biggest solar bankruptcies in recent news

Like any market, there are ebbs and flows to profits and business that must be recognized and prepared for, and the solar energy market is no different. Recently, there have been several solar energy companies in the news that have declared bankruptcy, or taken a serious economic hit. Here is a look at some of the more headline-worthy losses the solar energy market has taken.

Perhaps the most notable solar energy company to go bankrupt, Solyndra declared bankruptcy after receiving $535 million in financial backing from the federal government. The solar panel-producing company offered that, “global economic and solar industry market conditions,” are what resulted in the massive company going belly up. Solyndra also explains that regulatory legislation made it increasingly difficult to be profitable in challenging economic times. The bankruptcy was unforeseen by many, including many federal leaders in Washington DC.

Evergreen Solar
Evergreen Solar, a solar manufacturing plant in Massachusetts, declared bankruptcy in August 2011, after blaming impenetrable Chinese competition and clean energy subsidies for the lack of profit. Because the company manufactured polysilicon wafers, the company was dramatically affected when the value of silicon took a massive hit in recent years. The company was worth an estimated $165 million.

Citing the same reasons as Evergreen Solar, SpectraWatt also blamed a challenging global competition for their bankruptcy in April 2011. SpectraWatt went on to explain that labor is cheaper, and the government is more supportive in China, making it difficult to surpass the international competition. Based in New York, the company received roughly $50 million in funding since June 2008, and had an estimated liability of around $38 million.

Solon and SolarWorld
Two Germany-based companies have also taken a huge hit, despite Germany being considered a solar energy market powerhouse. Both companies have shut down plants this year, and blame tough Chinese competition at the culprit. Like their US counterparts, these German companies also blame government subsidies that make it difficult for solar power to become viable and mainstream.

While these companies may act as an omen for solar energy, the truth is that the solar energy market continues to rise. Solar panels are becoming more affordable, and people are beginning to understand the value of clean, independent forms of energy. With a more concentrated US market, hopefully solid solar companies will expand and continue to increase the US solar energy market.

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