Solyndra Signs $115M Deal With German Solar Integrator


The contracts keep coming for Solyndra, the Fremont, Calif.-based manufacturer of thin-film solar tubes. The startup announced today that it has signed a $115 million deal to sell panels to EBITSCHenergietechnik, a solar integrator in Zapfendorf, Germany, through 2013. (No, that’s not a typo. Try saying that name three times fast!)

The deal is the second European contract Solyndra has announced this month. Two weeks ago, the company signed a $189 million deal to supply panels to Amsterdam-based integrator SunConnex, also through 2013. Solyndra also counts Germany-based integrators Phoenix Solar and GeckoLogic among its customers.

Solyndra’s latest sales contract brings its backlog to approximately $1.8 billion. That isn’t money in the bank, of course, until the company actually delivers the panels. The company has been tight-lipped about production at its 110-megawatt factory so far. Steve Kowalski, an associate city planner for Fremont, indicated earlier this month that the second project could be delayed. The company will need to build and ramp up that 500-megawatt project pretty quickly if it expects to deliver 1.8 megawatts in the next few years.

Having scored the first Department of Energy loan guarantee earlier this year, Solyndra has much of the financing in order for the project, but it’s having some difficulty negotiating the land purchase, according to Kowalski.

Still, Solyndra says it began shipping panels from its first factory in July, and it’s clear that panels are trickling into the market. In March, one of Solyndra’s customers, Novato, Calif.-based SPG Solar, completed a 132-kilowatt installation on a movie theater in Livermore, Calif. At the time, Solyndra said it was “one of many major commercial installations” planned and completed in the United States and Europe.

Another customer, Roseville, Calif.-based Solar Power, earlier this week said it had won a contract to install Solyndra panels at a Costco store in Hazlet, N.J. The 500-kilowatt system, which isn’t huge, is expected to be the largest commercial solar project using Solyndra panels so far.

The fact that Solyndra is signing multiyear contracts at a time when solar prices are sinking is a sign of confidence from integrators. It’s unclear whether these contracts include a provision for lower prices, if panel prices sink to a certain level, or a cancellation penalty. But as with most large purchases, solar installers tend to want to wait until they think prices have hit bottom before making long-term commitments.

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