Skip to Content

Weeding Out Solar Companies

Due to the credit freeze, Optisolar falters and rising star First Solar expands.
March 3, 2009

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.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

AGI is just chatter for now concept
AGI is just chatter for now concept

The hype around DeepMind’s new AI model misses what’s actually cool about it

Some worry that the chatter about these tools is doing the whole field a disservice.

Hoan Ton-That, CEO of Clearview AI
Hoan Ton-That, CEO of Clearview AI

The walls are closing in on Clearview AI

The controversial face recognition company was just fined $10 million for scraping UK faces from the web. That might not be the end of it.

Europe's AI Act concept
Europe's AI Act concept

A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of

The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.