The tale of Evergreen Solar — which recently filed for bankruptcy — matters because the company fell victim to shifting forces that are redefining the solar industry: subsidy rollbacks in Europe, intense competition from inexpensive Chinese labor and declining silicon prices. Intel-backed Spectrawatt also shut its doors last week, and there have been a slew of earnings disappointments in the past few weeks as public companies reported second-quarter numbers.
What’s happening is a shakeout as a new business model emerges, which Adam Lesser, our GigaOM Pro Green IT curator, has written about for his weekly update (subscription required). He notes, as prices dive, those with the leanest supply chains win. Meaning that unless you have a manufacturing edge, you’re in trouble.
However, maybe this — stiff competition and declining prices — is what the industry has needed after all. Sooner or later, the solar industry will have to get off government subsidies, and no one said the process wasn’t going to be painful. Despite all the carnage, the solar power industry is closer to grid pricing parity with coal and natural gas than it was last quarter. Which is good news for the survivors.
To read Adam’s complete article check out GigaOM Pro.