"U.S. solar company Evergreen Solar Inc filed for bankruptcy on Monday, its once cutting-edge technology falling victim to competition from cheaper Chinese rivals and solar subsidy cuts in Europe."
"The Chapter 11 filing by a company once seen at the forefront of U.S. renewable energy technology came after a two-year struggle to stave off competition from Asia. The increasingly crowded market forced Evergreen to close its much-touted but short-lived Massachusetts factory and relocate manufacturing to China, and resulted in the virtual disappearance of its once-lofty stock market value.
"How is the U.S. going to compete in manufacturing in general when manufacturers in China have access to numerous advantages?" said GTM Research analyst Brett Prior. "It costs $1.10 per watt in China to make a solar panel. That same exact process costs $1.80 here in the U.S. That's a 60 percent difference, and that's too big."
Evergreen's solar wafer technology was a favorite of investors in 2007 and 2008 because it used dramatically less of the industry's key pricey raw material, polysilicon. At the time, however, silicon prices were 10 times what they are today, making that advantage less meaningful as silicon prices gradually retreated from their highs.
But the Marlboro, Massachusetts, company's troubles worsened markedly in recent months as top solar markets Italy and Germany pared back subsidies, increasing global supplies of solar panels and sending prices into a tailspin."
Nichola Groom reports for Reuters August 16, 2011.
"Ascent Solar To Sell Stake, Eyes China Growth" (Reuters)
"Overrun by Chinese Rivals, U.S. Solar Company Falters" (Wall St. Journal)
"The Big Worry About China on the Energy Patch" (Foreign Policy)