Solyndra, the first recipient of a loan from the Department of Energy, told us that it thinks it will produce solar panels at a price that’s competitive with standard sources of energy in the next 2-3 years.
“We see a clear path,” says Kelly Truman, the VP of marketing, sales and business development, “and in 2-3 years we’ll hit grid parity.”
We spoke with Truman yesterday who said the $535 million loan from the DOE will finance 73% of a new factory, though he declined to say how the company would pay for the remainder of the project. The current factory is going to be able to produce 110 MW of solar panels, with each panel able to produce 200W of energy each. The next factory will be able to produce 550MW of solar panels annually. That’s enough energy to power almost 200,000 homes. Solyndra hopes to have the new factory shipping panels by 2011.
According to Truman, the demand for Solyndra panels are outpacing their production and each quarter has brought increases in revenue from commercial shipments. He didn’t say the company was struggling in the current economy, but he did mention that the world’s largest solar market–Germany–was slammed with a tough winter, which is affecting the entire solar industry.
Solyndra should be well capitalised now. It’s got that massive amount of government cash and around $820 million in venture capital, according to Cleantech.
While it’s good to be loaded with cash, its competitor, Nanosolar told Greentech Media, it might be unwise to load up on debt. “The new, post-2008 world is a deleveraged one where it’s balance sheet strength that rules. Especially in solar, a 25-year warranty industry, it is critical for a manufacturer’s customers to be able to bank on your balance sheet,” said Nanosolar CEO, Martin Roscheisen via email. “Taking on a lot of debt, and at very early stage, is incongruent with this.”
Maybe it’s sour grapes, but it’s a relevant point. Solyndra would likely reply that it’s in good shape for the future, since it has a reported $1.2 billion lined up in multiyear contracts.
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