Solyndra, a California-based thin-film solar company that received a $535 million loan guarantee from the US Department of Energy just two years ago, has halted operations and plans to file for bankruptcy.
Solyndra is the third US solar manufacturer to close its doors in less than a month, and like Evergreen Solar and SpectraWatt before it, Solyndra says it can't compete with larger rivals in Asia as the price of solar panels continues to drop.
The demise of the company, which is headquartered in Freemont in the US state of California, is seen as something of a gut-check moment for the Obama administration's clean-energy stimulus program.
Solyndra was the first company selected to receive funding under the 2009 stimulus program, and in a May 2010 speech at the company, President Obama had said, “Companies like Solyndra are leading the way toward a brighter and more prosperous future."
The company makes cylindrically shaped CIGS solar modules designed for large commercial rooftop installations. But the panels are more expensive to produce than flat, conventional panels, and it's not clear that the cylindrical design increases power output enough to offset the increased costs.
In addition, some installers have complained that the cylindrical tubes are more fragile than conventional panels.
A Solyndra spokesperson said the company will likely file for bankruptcy in the US state of Delaware on 7 September.
In advance of that move it has already reportedly furloughed an estimated 1,100 workers.
The company has yet to say how much it owes creditors. Private investors in the company include Argonaut Private Equity, CMEA Ventures, Rockport Capital Partners LLC, US Venture Partners, and Virgin Green Fund.