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Renewable Energy Two Solar Panel Manufacturers Shutter U.S. Operations

by Jeff Johnson
August 22, 2011 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 89, Issue 34

Two solar panel manufacturers with facilities in the U.S. announced layoffs and plant closures last week. Evergreen Solar, with headquarters in the U.S., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and let go 65 workers. German solar manufacturer Solon announced that it would close an Arizona manufacturing facility, laying off 60 workers.

The solar industry faces a combination of difficulties, including excess inventory, plummeting solar module prices, policy uncertainty in Europe and the U.S., inexpensive Chinese products, and a plethora of small manufacturers.

Solon will reduce its operations in Tucson to 60 people, keeping those in sales, engineering, and research, the company says. It is unclear how the changes will affect its German operations.

Evergreen’s operations will be trimmed to 60 people working in development and administration in the U.S., and another 25 in China, the company said. A Chinese manufacturing operation may remain, Evergreen added, depending on “market demand.”

Evergreen was both a silicon wafer manufacturer and a photovoltaic panel maker and had developed what it said was a more efficient technology to produce silicon wafers for photovoltaic panels. The company received more than $50 million from the state of Massachusetts, which may want it back.

Over the past few years, Evergreen has fallen on difficult times and reduced its U.S. manufacturing operations. In January, the firm announced closure of its largest manufacturing facility, located in Devens, Mass., and cut its workforce there by 800.


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