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Today in Cleantech

The solar shakeout rolled on yesterday as two major players, Q-Cells and Solar Trust, filed for bankruptcy. Like others, I thought we’d see more bankruptcies (Q-Cells and Energy Conversion Devices were on the rumor list) when I wrote about the falling price of solar panels last August. Once the largest solar cell maker in the world, Q-Cells had struggled to cut costs dating back to 2008 and then was hit with tariff cuts in Europe. Solar Trust was the U.S. project of Germany’s Solar Millennium, which is itself in bankruptcy proceedings in Germany. Solar Trust has been building the largest solar farm—1000 megawatts—east of the Coachella Valley in Southern California.  And the question now is whether anyone can step in with financing or if there’s a company that wants to purchase the project rights. For what it’s worth, neither reps from Southern California Edison, which has a purchase agreement for the power from the project, nor folks from the governor’s office seemed too worried about the fate of the massive Blythe project. If the project could be had at a depressed price, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy step in and snap up the project. It’s been on a solar shopping spree.