Last year, we wrote about how SpectraWatt, a solar spin-off from Intel, laid off most of its employees and shut its doors.
This week, it filed for Chapter 11 reorganization. Think of that as the sequel.
SpectraWatt blamed market conditions for the bankruptcy filing, but there’s more to the story than that. Last year, it blamed harsh European winters for its downturn at a time when solar installations were up nearly 100 percent over the year before. The real problem seemed to be that it was trying to raise millions of dollars in late 2008 and early 2009 and trying to ramp up manufacturing at a time when the established players in solar were firming up their lock on the market and Chinese vendors were lowering the price. On top of that, SpectraWatt didn’t have novel thin wafers like Alta Devices or an efficient way to make CIGS panels like Miasole. It didn’t have a strong utility-scale solar group like First Solar either.
If it was a computer company, it would have been AST. Remember them? Maybe not.
Similarly, Evergreen Solar declared Chapter 11 a few weeks ago. It too blamed market conditions. Evergreen, however, spent most of its history championing an unusually shaped solar cell that didn’t fit well into existing manufacturing processes. Solar prices are down, but it’s not the root of all evil.