Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Kevin Bullis

A View from Kevin Bullis

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.

Cut off? Read unlimited articles today.

Become an Insider
Already an Insider? Log in.
More from Sustainable Energy

Can we sustainably provide food, water, and energy to a growing population during a climate crisis?

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Basic.
  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Print Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.