The Failure of Solyndra


Those of our readers “in the know” probably are aware of the recent bankruptcy of a high-profile solar manufacturer: Solyndra. This is an unfortunate event, but we can assure all of our clients that we have no Solyndra in our installation portfolio. There are plenty of opinions in the media about how and why this happened. From the perspective of the layperson, Solyndra was a high flyer and amazing success story: they had the backing of the Department of Energy in the form of a loan guarantee in excess of $500M. They had many very large installations across the country. They seemed to have a technical solution that was affordable and unique, with the capability of changing the market. Almost too good to be true.

Here at Microgrid, we spend a lot of time doing our due diligence on technologies and companies that we recommend and install for our clients’ businesses and homes. We focus on the highest quality modules with the technical performance, warranties, and financial stability to provide the decades of service you expect. We use inverter technologies that are proven, with warranties to match the modules, and that provide the benefits our clients expect. We are continuously evaluating and discussing new options; whether they make sense, whether we think they are ready for prime time.

Some might criticize us for not taking risks on more new technologies, but we did make a conscious decision not to use Solyndra, and that has proven to be a wise decision. Although we had a number of opportunities, we decided against using Solyndra every time due to what we perceived as technical weakness, lack of track record, and the “gut feel” that comes with experience. We love to see new products come to market and get exposure in the field … just not on our clients’ buildings, not until they pass our muster. We wish we had been wrong and that Solyndra had proven to be a company with a product that would change the solar world. But at the same time we are happy that our clients have reliable, durable, and proven technology from strong companies that will be working for decades to come.

One message we want to be sure to convey is that the failure of Solyndra is more related to the wild success of the industry as of late, rather than the opposite. Part of what drove Solyndra to bankruptcy is that they couldn’t compete on price with the highly efficient manufacturing processes and price-reducing competition in the crystalline silicon sector. As with all maturing technologies and industries, there are winners and losers. Microgrid is committed to helping ensure that our clients are betting on the best horses in the field.


Read the Solar Energy Industry Association’s take on the Solyndra Story and America’s Solar Energy Boom here: