Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

{ action.text }

Experts have long been predicting a winnowing of the solar industry. High prices for solar panels in recent years, due to a silicon shortage, had helped companies with expensive technologies survive. As more silicon became available, they predicted, prices would fall, forcing the less competitive companies, often startups, to call it quits. Now it looks as though frozen credit markets are also promoting the consolidation of the solar market.

First Solar, a company based in Tempe, AZ, whose thin-film solar cells are very cheap to make, is taking over solar farm projects that were originally going to be supplied by its competitor, Optisolar, a startup based in Hayward, CA. These projects include a contract for a large, 550-megawatt solar installation that Optisolar won last year. The startup couldn’t raise the money it needed to scale up production to fulfill its contract and has announced massive layoffs.

The move is part of First Solar’s strategy to not only make solar cells, but also install them in solar farms. The acquisition of Optisolar’s projects also guarantees a market for First Solar’s solar panels as the company continues to increase its manufacturing capacity.

The news hasn’t all been bleak for the solar industry. The recent stimulus bill could help keep hope alive for solar startups by providing tax incentives.

5 comments. Share your thoughts »

Tagged: Energy, energy, solar, photovoltaics, energy policy, First Solar

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me