4 July 2012

CdTe PV module maker Abound Solar suspending operations

Cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin-film photovoltaic (PV) module maker Abound Solar of Loveland, CO, USA says that it intends to file a petition for protection under US Bankruptcy Code in Delaware this week. Suspension of operations will impact about 125 staff.

Earlier this year, Abound ceased production of its first-generation 10.5%-efficient PV module and has been working to scale up manufacturing for its high-efficiency, second-generation ‘AB2’ PV module, which was tested and verified by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to deliver 85W per panel and 12.5% efficiency. Abound has been in discussions with potential buyers over the last several months, but ended negotiations when the involved parties were unable to come to an agreement on terms.

Abound’s funding has come from $300m in private investment and $70m from a DOE loan guarantee program. The firm had used $70m of the awarded $400m DOE loan guarantee for construction of solar panel manufacturing lines in Colorado. Abound has not drawn down any further DOE funds since August 2011, when the DOE determined that challenging market conditions in the solar industry did not merit additional funding risk. The firm says that it is appreciative of the significant investment from private investors and the DOE.

Abound believes that, at scale, its US-made CdTe panel technology has the ability to achieve lower cost per watt than competing crystalline silicon technology made in China. However, aggressive pricing actions from Chinese solar panel companies have made it very difficult for an early stage startup company like Abound to scale in current market conditions. According to the US Commerce Department, the US solar market has seen the prices for panels drop by more than 50% in the past year at a time when the value of imports of Chinese-made solar cells nearly quadrupled from $639m in 2009 to $3.1bn in 2011. The firm says that it supports recent initiatives to enforce fair trade with import tariffs, but this action is unfortunately too late for the firm.

Abound says that it believes that competitive solar energy remains important to US energy security and job creation, and that longer-term, consistent renewable energy policy is critical to encourage further private investment in the sector.

Tags: Abound Solar CdTe thin-film PV

Visit: www.abound.com

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