But what does Solyndra’s bankruptcy mean for the rest of the solar industry?
- An unintended consequence of the failed loan guarantee is that solar was lifted onto the national media stage. Before, the general public cared very little about the industry. Now everyone knows something about it and is curious. I lost count of how many customers, friends and family members over the past weeks have asked me “How does Solyndra’s bankruptcy affect your industry?”. After the dust has settled, I believe this heightened attention will benefit the industry. We are on an exciting path to provide cheaper and cleaner electricity. If we can stay on that path, it will be a transformative development that needs to be broadcasted to the public to maintain momentum.
- Other solar companies will quickly follow Solyndra’s fate. Any module manufacturer that cannot reach scale and profitability with their current cash reserves will struggle to raise new funds. The margins in the industry have come under so much pressure that new technologies like CIGS have to beat ever decreasing cost targets. It’s just a matter of time that more modules makers will run out of money and declare bankruptcy or sell their technology for cheap. Investors will be lucky to get their initial investment back.
- Customers, utilities and technology-agnostic solar companies will benefit. After all, the bankruptcies and industry consolidation is a direct result of drastically lower pricing. Exactly what the industry needs to push solar to cost-competitiveness with fossil fuels on a level playing field.
- The real winners are yet to emerge. As in other new industries, the early movers often do not win the game (think MySpace/Friendster vs. Facebook, Lycos/AltaVista vs. Google). It’s still too early to call the winners. Many will be Chinese. Many are yet to be discovered.