Three solar-energy manufacturers that received backing from the Obama administration may survive an onslaught of cheap Chinese panels that helped force Solyndra LLC into bankruptcy.
By Christopher Martin
Abound Solar Inc. (based in Loveland, Colorado) and SoloPower Inc. won a total of $597 million in loan guarantees from the U.S. Energy Department to begin building their first commercial solar-panel plants this year, and 1366 Technologies Inc. received a $150 million guarantee for a polysilicon wafer factory.
Abound and SoloPower say their thin-film panels will compete on price against the most common type of solar panels, which are made from polysilicon, and 1366 is developing a low- cost system for producing polysilicon.
Solyndra touted the light weight and ease of installation of its cylindrical, thin-film solar products, advantages that were more important in 2009 when it received a $535 million U.S. loan guarantee to build a factory. The price of silicon-based panels, made mainly in China, has fallen 46 percent since then.