OptiSolar Lays Off Majority Of Staff, Stops Production


OptiSolar has halted its manufacturing and is letting go 200 employees because the company does not have the funding to stay operational. A small staff will remain in place to guide the remains of the organisation.

OptiSolar recently sold its project pipeline to First Solar for $400 million in stock, but they probably could’ve used some cash instead.

PV-Tech: I reached a blue Alan Bernheimer [their spokesman] via email, and he confirmed the report (and his own role as part of the transition team). “While we continue to seek a buyer for our technology and manufacturing business,” he wrote me, “we are encouraged by the fact that OptiSolar’s vision of large-scale PV solar will become a reality in the hands of First Solar, which has the resources needed in today’s dysfunctional economy.”
I asked him whether the status of the U.S. Department of Energy loan that OptiSolar applied for had any bearing on the decision to ramp down operations. His reply suggests a classic case of too little, too late.
“The DOE loan guarantee application went in last month,” he related, “but the review process takes many months, and we don’t expect a determination until toward year-end. Nevertheless, that could make the manufacturing business more attractive to a buyer. Even so, it will require additional investment.”

The company seemed poised for success. It had a deal in place with Pacific Gas and Electric, who was going to buy electricity from a 550MW plant OptiSolar planned to build. And in December Gov. Schwarzenegger toured their factory with 60 Minutes to tout California’s solar industry (see below). But in the tight economy, getting money together to pay for a large project proved too much.

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