Intel spinoff Spectrawatt files Chapter 11

Just a few months after shuttering its US fab, mc-Si solar cell maker Spectrawatt is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

August 24, 2011 – Just a few months after shuttering its US fab, mc-Si solar cell maker Spectrawatt is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a US Bankruptcy Court in New York’s Southern District and is seeking to sell all assets, according to multiple reports.

(Sound familiar? Evergreen Solar did the same just days ago.)

In the filing (reported by Bloomberg, among others) the company blames pricing pressures and Chinese competition with “considerable government and financial support,” as well as defective equipment and wafers received from vendors.

The process, which could be closed within a month, will seek a buyer for the entire facility, possibly from some foreign firms who had shown interest in recent months, according to the company’s bankruptcy lawyer cited by the Poughkeepsie Journal. (“They’ve had a couple of serious suitors,” added John MacEnroe, president/CEO of the Dutchess County Economic Development Corp., to the Albany Times Union.) The company reportedly owes creditors $38.7M against its value of $33.9M. Another hearing is scheduled on Thursday morning 8/25 to handle debtors’ motions for authorizing/scheduling an auction of assets, manage bank accounts/records, and pay wages, taxes, expenses, etc.

Spun off from Intel in 2009 with $50M in seed money (and another $41M in early 2010), Spectrawatt inaugurated its factory in Hopewell Junction, NY in May 2010, initially building a 60MWp line for ~15%-16% efficient cells, with goals of up to 200MWp capacity. By November 2010 it was feted by the local economic development group for its “innovative approach to manufacturing,” was getting backing from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and was part of a consortia to condense solar PV technology in upstate NY. But in December 2010 Spectrawatt said it would close the NY factory and lay off more than a hundred workers.

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