All in & all done: Solyndra auction dropped, Solon on the block

Two solar PV makers are passing in different directions, trying to get at least some money out of shuttered US operations.

January 23, 2012 – Two solar PV makers are passing in different directions, trying to get at least some money out of shuttered US operations.

Solon is preparing a pitch to prospective buyers this week, with a planned Jan. 23-26 auction to sell off what used to be its Tuscon, AZ-based module manufacturing operation, which the company began phasing out last fall. (Solon’s German unit filed for insolvency just before Christmas.) Among items in the lot are two 100MW-capacity Swiss Solar System Models 3S laminators (usable for both c-Si and thin film processes), a 75MW REIS Robotics automated framing module, three REIS 6-axis robots, and a REIS framing station. Secondary equipment reseller Fab-Finder is helping to prepare the items for auction.

While Solon moves along, we find once again solar PV whipping boy Solyndra in the spotlight, having canceled yet another auction after receiving no bids by a Tuesday Jan. 18 deadline. The proposed turnkey sale would have held out hope of maintaining at least some operation; now it looks like the firm will be sold away literally in parts, with the next step a court-approved auction of core assets in piecemeal or grouped by similar type.. A previous auction late last year ended similarly, without drawing desired interest.

The company, which last fall was made the poster child for bad government investments due to its $535M DoE loan guarantee and subsequent nosedive, continues to make headlines for the wrong reasons. Reports surfaced this week that it is actually seeking to pay bonuses to some of its dozen-odd remaining staff, ostensibly to keep them motivated while completing all the legal paperwork for its dismantling. (Not surprisingly, ex-Solyndra workers and pretty much everyone else are decrying the suggestion.)

And a local TV station says it’s witnessed remnants of the company’s solar manufacturing processes — “hundreds of thousands” of units specialized glass tubing — tossed into the garbage, with the explanation (with which the bankruptcy court apparently agrees) that storing the glass is more expensive than it’s worth, or could hope to be resold for. (The TV report, though, found some interested researchers and resellers who’d be happy to take some; moreover the actual German glass supplier seems to be unaware of the fate of its supplies.)

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