After getting a $535 million federal loan guarantee for building a factory, solar thin-film startup Solyndra is going out of business. Solyndra has also raised close to a billion dollars in equity and loans and said it will file Chapter 11.


Solar company Solyndra is closing down and filing for bankruptcy.

That news, reported by NBC  and which we’ve just confirmed with the solar company, is chilling because so many hopes have been pinned on Solyndra’s success story for job creation, solar manufacturing and a celebration of American innovation.

The Fremont, Calif., company, which uses a novel process to make solar panels that are consisted of rows of solar cell-lined tubes, is laying off its 1,100 full-time and temporary employees immediately, the company said. The company, which has suspended production, plans to file for Chapter 11 and figure out what to do with its intellectual property and assets. Options include selling its business and licensing is technology.

“Solyndra LLC, the American manufacturer of innovative cylindrical solar systems for commercial rooftops today announced that global economic and solar industry market conditions have forced the Company to suspend its manufacturing operations,” the company said in a statement.

More from the company press release:

Despite strong growth in the first half of 2011 and traction in North America with a number of orders for very large commercial rooftops, Solyndra could not achieve full-scale operations rapidly enough to compete in the near term with the resources of larger foreign manufacturers. This competitive challenge was exacerbated by a global oversupply of solar panels and a severe compression of prices that in part resulted from uncertainty in governmental incentive programs in Europe and the decline in credit markets that finance solar systems.

“We are incredibly proud of our employees, and we would like to thank our investors, channel partners, customers and suppliers, for the years of support that allowed us to bring our innovative technology to market.  Distributed rooftop solar power makes sense, and our customers clearly recognize the advantages of Solyndra systems,” said Solyndra’s president and CEO, Brian Harrison.  “Regulatory and policy uncertainties in recent months created significant near-term excess supply and price erosion.  Raising incremental capital in this environment was not possible.  This was an unexpected outcome and is most unfortunate.”

Solyndra has garnered the spotlight not only for its unusual technology but also for receiving a hefty federal loan guarantee of $535 million to build a factory. Solyndra broke ground on the factory project just before Labor Day in 2009 and completed the factory last year. Solyndra has also raised close to a billion dollars in equity and loans.

We knew this year would be a make-or-break year for Solyndra, given the company’s plan to ramp up production this year and perhaps putting behind the hubbub about its decision to forego an IPO in favor of raising private funding. The company had to lay off employees and close an older factory last year because it was having trouble competing with manufacturers, particularly those from China, that had built much larger factories and cut their costs significantly.

Here’s our previous coverage of Solyndra’s ups and downs:

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  1. Nice job Obama another failure for you. Can I get my tax money back please.

    1. Thank Bush this was his baby

      1. Just saying Bush did this doesn’t make it so. Obama has been the head coach for 3 years now..how about accepting responsibility!

      2. Bush had nothing to do with this. Get a College Degree then reply. Otherwise don’t bother posting.

    2. Tell you what, get the $2+ Trillion that wasted on Iraq/Afghan wars and I will make sure the $535M loan is repaid.

      1. if it wasn’t for us going over seas, you might be making body armor and panic rooms here in the US… If Obama would help keep business growth here in the US rather then allowing overseas markets into our nonsense… this company would be fine…

    3. most of the money did go back to american taxpayers via the construction(100% US), suppliers(>85% US), and 90% of the employees were in the US.

  2. What happened to all of the “green jobs” that were supposed to be popping up out of the woodwork because of the billions of hope/change dollars that were handed out?

    1. If you don’t have solar on your house, then there is your answer. We cannot expect companies to pay good wages to American workers while we support goods made overseas. We must accept our portion of the responsibility and create a market for green tech. Of course if you WANT President Obama to fail, go ahead and risk the lives of your fellow citizens to do it.

  3. interested citizen Wednesday, August 31, 2011

    Do we know how much of that $535 billion the gov’t is potentially on the hook for?

    1. Solyndra have actually drawn $432 Million of the Loan. So this is how much has been lost. You can see at http://www.treasury.gov/ffb in the press release section. Just add the monthly drawdowns.

      1. Thanks for the information, Peter.

  4. A roof covered by a closely packed array of long glass tubes was never going to beat thin flat panels.

    1. Actually it did because flat panels weren’t efficient enough, it could only get sun from a certain angle and since the Solyndra panel was a circular tube it obtained sun from all angles

      1. A flat panel can also collect sunlight from a range of angles. Solyndra’s design is fundamentally flawed in a manner that is so obvious that the company should never have been funded-half active surface faces away from the sun. Solyndra’s schematic showing that light reflected by the white roof is converged to the back side of the tube is nonsense. A white roof will reflect diffusly meaning that reflected light is just as likely to pass out between gaps between the tubes and never be collected. VC’s think that whatever they choose to fund they can make the winner notwithstanding physics or sound engineering.

  5. Thank you solyndra for coming to the bay area for nothing. Jobs ? Wat jobs you guys r a crock and a fraud now u make Obama look bad. Pissed off employee? Yes I am

  6. “are consisted of”? You have got to be kidding me.

  7. I watched them just finish there new $500 million building, they worked 7 days a week for over a year. No need to worry about overtime when the Fed government is funding everything. This is your tax dollars at work, 1/2 billion sitting in an empty building and 1100 more on the unemployment rolls. Great Job Mr. President!!

  8. SVE, read into Solyndra’s attributes and niche; then you’ll understand the competitive advantage they were targeting.

    1. Actually I know quite a bit about there supposed advantages. They had a marginal advantage of angle insensitivity (flat panels have cosine response). They had a marginal improvement of raw efficiency. But they were horrible on manufacturing tubes versus coating a thin flat substrate. Any inefficiencies experiences by flat panel people could be made up by simply buying more panels. On a dollar/watt basis, the flat panel people were always going to win because of easier mfg.

    2. Maury Markowitz c Friday, September 16, 2011

      I did, extensively. I didn’t see the advantage. Consider just one tiny little issue and you’ll start to see the problem:

      Panels are almost all the same size now, 1 by 1.6 meters. So let’s say a panel goes and I need to get a replacement. I can buy practically any panel out there, and it should fit OK.

      So what happens when a Solyndra goes? I can only replace it with another Solyndra. Do I take the “module” apart and replace the dead tube? Do I replace the whole module? What if the design has changed?

      There’s a lot more to installing solar than just “best panel”, and Solyndra just didn’t hit any of the other buttons.

      My thoughts, blog roll: http://matter2energy.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/solyndra-the-missing-story/

  9. SVE, read into Solyndra’s market niche, then you’ll understand their competitive advantage over conventional flat panels in certain circumstances. Using absolute statements stints innovation and can be difficult to uphold.

    1. Let’s say they were twice as good (they weren’t). You can eliminate that disadvantage by buying twice as many flat panels, and it would still be cheaper. Cooked and done.

  10. Republican or Democrat a presidential visit spelled disaster for this company…funny the top man went on to “explore and better opportunities ” after the president came to visit… got what he came for, as all CEO’s do…they look out for themselves only !

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