SoloPower looking more and more like Solyndra

SoloPower's solar panel booth

It’s an easy comparison to make. Solar startup SoloPower is developing a solar material similar to the now defunct infamous Solyndra, and like Solyndra its also got federal and state incentives as well as venture capital funding. But now SoloPower is beginning to struggle like Solyndra, too, and according to the Oregonian has done layoffs, is restructuring, and even renegotiated its loan with the Department of Energy. SoloPower confirmed the layoffs.

SoloPower said in late September 2012 that it had started up its large factory in Portland, Oregon. SoloPower then-CEO Tim Harris told us at the time that he expected the company to produce 20 MW – maybe 30 MW — of solar panels per year by the end of 2012 and ship 2 to 5MW of solar panels during the fourth quarter. In SoloPower’s confirmation of the layoffs this week, the company says it “will begin commercial shipments to customers this month.”

But according to The Oregonian, SoloPower is looking to sell millions of equipment from its headquarters in San Jose, Calif., it’s seen the departure of high-level executives like the CEO, the President and the CTO in recent weeks, and the managing director of SoloPower’s lead investor Hudson Clean Energy Partners recently resigned. These are all worrisome signs for a startup that has raised over $200 million in funding. The factory originally was supposed to be 400 MW factory and cost $350 million.

SoloPower was awarded a $197 million federal loan guarantee to help it build out the factory. That loan is supposed to be able to be drawn down on when it has its first production line up at the factory. That’s the same program that funded Solyndra. SoloPower has drawn down on a state loan according to the Oregonian.

This article was updated at 11:48AM PST on March 5, 2013, to clarify the status of its loans.


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