Posting in Energy
The falling cost of silicon and cheap solar panels from China have caused some manufacturers to fail. Solar plastic maker Konarka's problem wasn't the market. It was its tech, according to a recent report from Lux Research.
Konarka Technologies, the organic thin-film solar company that recently filed for bankruptcy, was the victim of its own technology, not market conditions, according to a recent analyst report from Lux Research.
Earlier this week, the Massachusetts-based organic solar thin-film company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and announced it would cease all operations after failing to obtain additional financing. Konarka Chairman, CEO and President Howard Berke struck a hopeful tone in the statement and noted several large international companies had expressed interest in financing or acquiring the company.
In Lux's view, Konarka's thin-film printed solar modules couldn't compete in the market on cost, efficiency or lifetime. In other words, it was (and still is) a bad investment.
"With 10 times higher costs and 10 times lower efficiency and lifetime compared to alternative solar technologies, the math never added up for Konarka's Power Plastic," the Lux report said.
Lux also disputes Konarka's claim that its failure stemmed from the inability to raise more funding.
"Raising funding, more than solar module development, was where the company excelled," Lux Research wrote. "Finding market success in emerging technologies takes many factors, but a viable technology underpins all of them, something that Konarka never had and no credible path to attain."
Technically unsavvy investors, driven by the promise of cheap, printed solar modules that can be made colorful and transparent, rushed to put money into Konarka, the research firm said.
Some of Konarka's investors, many which have cleantech expertise, might not take too kindly to Lux's "unsavvy" assessment. Investors include Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Good Energies, 3i, New Enterprise Associates, Vanguard Ventures, Chevron Ventures, Massachusetts Green Energy Fund and Total.
Konarka raised $170 million from investors with an additional $30 million coming from grant funding, according to Lux Research's figures. Konarka used the money to build a 1 GW manufacturing line. That line would never come close to that capacity, Lux wrote.
Lux also made a grim prediction for other companies developing organic photovoltaic products. "With a project organic photovoltaic market size of a meager $159 million in 2020, Konarka won't be the last to run out of investors," the Lux report said.
Photo: Konarka Technologies
Jun 7, 2012
Romney used Massachusetts tax dollars to fund this company So he is a hypocrite for compaigning in front of Solyndra
Organic thin film solar that is costly, not very efficient and not long lasting has limited uses that it can be very good at. Specifically situations that call for light weight low power recharging in items with a short expected life span. Powering remote aerial deployed sensors come to mind. By the nature of it strengths and weaknesses to think they would need a large production capacity was foolish. They could have been a very successful small market company if they had been realistic in their goals.
Romney loaned $1.5 million. Obama gave away $500 million. BIG DIFFERENCE $1.5 million was paid back with interest long before the company failed. Which made it a good investment. $500 million disappeared in a deal where Solyndra bought Photon Solar in India. The loan was supposed to help expand their California plant to handle $4 billion in work contracted for solar power plants in California. Instead all of the work slated for the Solyndra plant in California was moved off shore to India when the California plant closed in 2011. The loan was linked to the Califonia plant so the parent company, Solyndra, was able to walk away from it without paying a dime. That investment did not work out too good for the taxpayers. BIG DIFFERENCE The $1.5 million was from a dedicated fund setup for such uses. The $500 million was borrowed money our government was giving away. BIG DIFFERENCE.