You may have heard or read about the recent collapse of the Solyndra solar module manufacturing company. Perhaps you were angered by the $500 million government loan Solyndra received. After all, some of that money came directly out of your pocket. The media has positioned this story as one that is all about the loan and drove the story on an emotional level that focused on big government loans and bankruptcy. Certainly a story to be told. However, there is another story not reported.
I work in the business of solar. Skyward Solar Power Company specializes in solar electric system installations. Typically, every solar installation we work on presents unique scenarios and unique challenges. As solar specialists, we find the solutions to these projects and the outcome is a high performance solar electric system engineered to generate power for the customer for decades.
This is where Solyndra comes in. Solyndra researched the various solar electric system installation scenarios and uncovered the unmet needs which technical solutions were not available. With this data, and in their R&D, they created a very unique technology and manufactured it. The Solyndra solar module works well and provides a number of excellent features no other solar module/panel made in the world is able to deliver. It was well received by many solar installation companies who clearly liked its special features.
Why did they fail? Solyndra launched as solar cells and solar module pricing started a deep and rapid decline in pricing. Solyndra was not able to join this new pricing market because their manufacturing has complexities that standard panel manufacturing simply does not. This prevented them from competing. In spite of their special features, when it came down to dollar versus dollar and ROI versus ROI the standard panels have the upper hand. At Skyward Solar Power Company we submitted six Solyndra proposals and were not able to sign any of them solely because the price decreased the customer’s ROI. The uniqueness of Solyndra was not enough trump lower cost technology.
I can’t speak to Solyndra’s use of their $500 million dollar loan. I have no idea how well that money was used. I do know Solyndra, designed and manufactured in the USA is American ingenuity at its best. At a time when America is desperate for quality jobs, and demands “Made In The USA” – Solyndra delivered .