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

still from Embodied Intelligence video
still from Embodied Intelligence video

These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems

They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.

pig kidney transplant surgery
pig kidney transplant surgery

Surgeons have successfully tested a pig’s kidney in a human patient

The test, in a brain-dead patient, was very short but represents a milestone in the long quest to use animal organs in human transplants.

panpsychism concept
panpsychism concept

Is everything in the world a little bit conscious?

The idea that consciousness is widespread is attractive to many for intellectual and, perhaps, also emotional
reasons. But can it be tested? Surprisingly, perhaps it can.

We reviewed three at-home covid tests. The results were mixed.

Over-the-counter coronavirus tests are finally available in the US. Some are more accurate and easier to use than others.

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.