DOE-backed Abound Solar to shut down, file for bankruptcy


By: SGN Staff


Thin-film solar panel maker Abound Solar, which had taken $70 million in DOE loan guarantees, is the latest victim of falling solar panel prices and an overcrowded market. The Colorado startup will close its doors and file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy next week, DOE announced Thursday.


The announcement may not be a big surprise. Abound originally was approved for up to $400 million in loan guarantees to support construction of two manufacturing facilities in 2010, but when solar panel prices fell and Abound was no longer able to compete the DOE exercised one of its failsafes in the loan program and stopped the disbursements to the company in September 2011.


The company built one plant in Longmont, Colorado, but never started the second. In a statement also released Thursday, Abound Solar said "Abound believes that, at scale, its USA-made CdTe panel technology has the ability to achieve lower cost per watt than competing crystalline silicon technology made in China. However, aggressive pricing actions from Chinese solar panel companies have made it very difficult for an early stage startup company like Abound to scale in current market conditions."


The statement also said Abound had been in negotiations with potential buyers for several months but "ended negotiations when the involved parties were unable to come to an agreement on terms."


DOE's announcement came in the form of a blog post that stressed the importance of maintaining a strong solar industry in the U.S. and the jobs it has brought. The post also spent a good bit of time defending its reasons for granting the loan guarantee to Abound.