Big Chinese state owned companies are gobbling up financially strained Western solar firms as a massive overcapacity in global solar panel supply (caused by their brethren) drives them to bankruptcy. Note thin film startups like Ascent Solar, Heliovolt have already seen Asian companies taking a controlling equity stake. Now Chinese state owned companies which do not have a big solar presence are buying up these companies to gain access to solar technology which they lack. Recently Hanergy bought Solibro which has one of the best thin film CIGs technology and a 100 MW capacity from bankrupt Q-Cells. Note the company has been developing this technology for almost a decade and Hanergy has made a killing by buying it for a dirt cheap price (my assumption).
Hanergy’s second top CIGs solar panel buy
Hanergy has once again picked up a leader in thin film solar panel space by buying up Miasole for a mere $30 million. Note the company’s investors had put up almost $500 million into the company till date and Miasole had shown one of the highest efficiencies in CIGs solar panels. Miasole like Nanosolar was supposed to be the next gen leader in the solar energy manufacturing companies in the USA. But like other thin film solar startups, the plummeting prices of crystalline silicon solar panels have destroyed their business models. First Solar is surviving only because of its solar development and installation business as it does not find it profitable to sell thin film solar panels in the market anymore.
The big Chinese groups continue to build huge capacities in the already oversupplied solar industry as they have the backing of the Chinese banks. Hanergy is getting a $5 billion credit line from CDB and is aiming for a 3 GW capacity by the end of the year. Note CDB has given multi-billion credit lines to most big Chinese solar panel companies even as these companies struggle to maintain a market valuation of a couple of hundred million dollars.
The Chinese Dominance of the Solar Industry in the last 2 years have seen numerous Western companies go bust. This has accelerated sharply in 2011 with companies like Evergreen Solar, Spectrawatt, Solar Millenium, Solon, Photowatt etc. either gone for good or in various stages of bankruptcy. Other US Solar Panel Manufacturers like First Solar, Sunpower have fired thousands and some are continuing with large losses. European Solar Companies are the worst off given their high cost structure and lack of differentiation. Solland Solar recently killed its solar module line while some like Schott have killed their solar wafer lines.
Now a new wave of bankruptcies are on the way with Q-Cells likely to face a credit event as it needs to roll over convertibles which come due in February. Note Q-Cells has fallen a long way from being the biggest solar cell company in 2008. Miasole and Nanosolar were Private Equity backed CIGs darlings that were supposed to become the biggest thing following First Solar. Now Nanosolar faced executive exits while Miasole has fired large number of its workforce failing to find a big parent to support it. Note the smaller companies like Ascent Solar have found backers in Asia. Solar Technologies are seeing Darwin Survival of the Fittest with crystalline silicon solar panel technology beating out thin film solar and solar thermal technologies.
USA is losing Green Tech Edge
The glut in green industries is nothing new with companies in the solar, wind and energy storage industries finding going tough. A number of green companies have already shut down and many others are teetering on the edge. USA has not supported these companies forcing them into the arms of Asian suitors while China continues to support large solar companies which are already bankrupt. USA stopped the acquisition of A123 Systems the Lithium Battery Startup, however the company is a lost cause without capital infusion and support.
China’s largest privately owned provider of renewable power has agreed to buy Santa Clara solar company MiaSole for $30 million, according to documents sent to Miasole shareholders this week. The Chronicle obtained a copy of the documents Friday.MiaSole announced in early August that it would reorganize, in an effort to cut costs. Although the privately held company claims a commercial pipeline bigger than 1 gigawatt, MiaSole decided to cut its manufacturing workforce. Company CEO John Carrington said at the time that the move would help the company find a “partner” for future growth.