Solar bankruptcies mark industry coming of age

Date: 14 November 2011
(Reuters) - Solar companies will continue to go bust as a natural part of the industry's coming of age that will make it ever more competitive relative to fossil fuels, a senior official at Dow Corning said in an interview.

Stiff competition from China and subsidy cuts have increased the strain on solar companies and some, including Solyndra LLC and Evergreen Solar Inc, have filed for bankruptcy protection.

Solyndra's failure stirred up a political storm in the United States over an Energy Department loan guarantee to the firm.

"It's very likely the industry is going to go through a phase of consolidation. The bankruptcies we have seen are not the end, but the start," said Eric Peeters, vice president of Dow Corning in Europe.

"It's a consequence of the industry growing up and being very successful in getting the cost down. A company that does not have the right cost structure or the right technology is going to find it very hard to compete," he told Reuters.

He said Dow Corning, a U.S.-based company with international operations, was in robust health.

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu has set a target of bringing the cost of solar down to $1 per watt of installed capacity by 2020.

Peeters said that would amount to a 50 percent cut from current costs and should be achievable.

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