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US Solar Projects available at Fire Sale Prices by Insolvent Solar Millennium, Solar Trust Bankruptcy

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US Solar Projects including the 1000 MW Blythe Solar Project is now available for solar developers,installers at fire sale prices. The Insolvency Administrator is looking to sell parts and the whole of the solar project business of Solar Millennium and its US subsidiary Solar Trust of America.Note before filing of bankruptcy,the solar project developer had around 2000 MW of solar projects in the pipeline.

Note the talks between German developer Solarhybrid are still on for buying the two large approved solar projects in California. US Solar Installers would be the most interested in such projects as it would give them business for a relatively long time and save on the approval time of around 3-4 years for such large projects.

Note Solar Thermal Companies have been dying like flies now as cheap solar panels prices have touched almost 80c/watt a price unthinkable even  6 months ago. This is almost 60% cheaper than the prices of $2/watt a year ago. It has thrown not only thin film solar companies but also higher cost silicon solar companies into trouble.LDK and Sunpower would have been bankrupt if not the backing of others.

German insolvency could lead to sale of Oakland solar subsidiary

Solar Millennium AG’s insolvency administrator is seeking to sell parts or all of the German developer of sun-powered plants.

Volker Boehm of Schulze & Braun said today in a statement that it’s seeking buyers for the company’s 60 or so project units and stakes, including Oakland-based Solar Trust of America LLC, which is planning the world’s biggest solar plant.

Solar Trust currently has multiple projects in development across the southwestern U.S., including the world’s largest permitted solar power plant facility near Blythe, CA. The Blythe Solar Power Project will deliver 1,000 Megawatts (MW) of capacity to the California power grid. That is enough electricity to power approximately 300,000 single-family homes each year.

Solar Thermal Energy has been losing out in the last couple of years to solar photovoltaic energy which is seeing a huge increase in demand amidst very low prices.Some of the major solar thermal energy projects in the globe have been converted into solar pv installations due to its lower costs.Some of the major solar thermal energy companies like Solar Millennium have sold their solar thermal portfolios to other companies while Stirling Power Systems has gone bankrupt.Tessera has sold its solar thermal plants which had gotten DOE Loan Guarantees in California to Solar Developers who have made these solar thermal plants into solar panel ones.However there are some companies like eSolar and Brightsource Energywhich are powering ahead with their technologies and projects with backing from big industrial MNC  conglomerates like GE and Areva.Their Power Tower Technologies are supposedly more efficient than the mainstream parabolic toughs that are used.

Disadvantages of Solar Thermal Energy

1) High Costs – Solar Thermal Energy costs at least Euro 3.5/watt and has not declined too much in the last 3-4 years .However these costs are too high  as Solar PV already costs Euro 2.5/watt and even on a conservative basis will have its costs reduced by 5% in the next 10 years making it attain half the cost of Solar Thermal Technology by 2020

2) Future Technology has a high probability of making CSP Obsolete – Solar Energy has become a Hotbed of Innovation with daily news of some new breakthrough in materials and process in PV Technology.Oerlikon has come out with a radial new a-Si Technology while CIGs player are touting increased efficiencies.Chinese Solar Companies have captured large chunks of the Solar Market through low cost leadership while number of Global Heavyweights like Posco,Samsung,Hyundai,Sharp,GE,TSMC promise to further decrease these costs.

3) Water Issue – Solar Thermal Plants use lots of Water which is Major Problem in Desert Areas. Using non-water cooling raises the cost of CSP projects too much.While using SeaWater has been proposed it remains to be seen if it possible to implement this solution as this would imply building Plants very near the Coastline

4) Ecological and Cultural Issues – The Usage of Massive Arrays of Mirrors is noted to heavily impact the Desert  Wildlife endangering the endangered species.California has already seen a massive fight on this issue with Project Developers curtailing the size of their Plants and spending money to move the wildlife

5) Limited Locations and Size Limitations – Solar Thermal  Energy can only be built in places which have the high amount of solar radiation.They can be built in deserts mostly and require a large land area.This means its not possible to build them in populated areas.Solar Thermal Energy also can only be built in large sizes which are at least 50 MW in size to be economical.This contrasts to Solar PV which is sold in sizes as low as 5 Watts

6) Long Gestation Time Leading to Cost Overruns – The Gestation Time for permitting,financing,drilling etc. can easily take 5-7 years to develop a concentrated solar thermal power plant.Compare this to 6 months for a small wind farm or 3 months for a Solar PV plant

7)  Financing is the biggest problem in developing projects particularly for small solar thermal developers in this industry.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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