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The cleantech asset firesale: Hanergy buys MiaSole

I’ve written before about the cleantech asset fire sale and how I expect that we’re at the beginning of the trend of aggressive Asian conglomerates picking up European and American R&D on the cheap. Well, the next deal was reported this morning as China based Hanergy will pick up MiaSole for a song ($30 million). MiaSole sunk almost half a billion into thin film solar panel research and manufacturing but just couldn’t compete. It’s sobering to think about how much of a research investment was made and how little money that accumulated research now fetches on the global market.

Hanergy joins other big Asian players that are scooping up cleantech assets, including LDK Solar (Sunways), Hanwa (Q-Cells), and Wanxiang Group (A123 Systems). No doubt these deals don’t sit well with the American taxpayer, who paid for the R&D at many of these companies through DOE grants or loan guarantees. But we’re living in a time where the Chinese government offers unflinching credit and support to its cleantech companies, resulting in protection of their own IP while giving them opportunities to go after foreign IP. Throw in cheaper labor and flexible factories that are skilled at manufacturing at scale, and you have a very aggressive competitor.