At least some developing countries will be able to get super cheap PV modules until the glut clears and the manufacturing misallocation created by Germany (and Spain) winds down. Too bad the developing countries will still ruin their landscapes (and burden their ratepayers and taxpayers with subsidies for these projects).
Oakland-based Solar Trust of America filed for bankruptcy this week, leaving its planned multibillion-dollar plant in California on ice. The company declared itself insolvent after its parent—Germany’s Solar Millennium—filed for bankruptcy in December, and Solar Trust realized it wouldn’t be able to pay a $1 million rent check due April 1.
Solar Millennium, in turn, had been hoping to sell a controlling stake in Solar Trust to the German company, solarhybrid, until solarhybrid also filed for bankruptcy in March. Then there’s Q-Cells, another German solar company, which also filed for bankruptcy this week, sharing that fate with Solon, the Berlin-headquartered photovoltaic firm that went bust in December.
This cascade of insolvencies comes after Germany decided last year to slash the above-market prices it forces utilities to pay for renewable energy sources and to cut the subsidies that have locked German taxpayers into €100 billion in handouts to the solar industry. Even before the subsidy cut, German solar manufacturers were struggling under price pressure from China, which has responded to Western subsidies by ramping up its own production, undercutting higher-cost European and American producers in the process.