The Dog Days of Solar

By Martin LaMonica, Technology Review:

It’s not enough to have compelling technology—small solar companies need a solid business model, rich partners, and manufacturing know-how.

The solar industry has done a spectacular job lowering costs in the past three years, slashing per-watt costs in half. But that price freefall, driven by the massive scale-up of Chinese manufacturers, has put dozens, if not hundreds, of solar companies on the endangered list. To survive, fledging solar technology companies are rethinking strategies that seemed rock solid just a few years ago.

The danger is clear. Abound Solar went out of business earlier this summer because it simply couldn’t stay ahead of the blistering pace of industry cost reductions (see “Abound Solar: Another Solar Casualty“). Its demise follows the spectacular collapse of Solyndra and bankruptcies, plant closings, and restructurings at many other solar providers… Read more

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