Solyndra to file for bankruptcy; suspends operations

American solar system manufacturer Solyndra will suspend operations immediately and file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. To blame: foreign rivals and a global glut of panels.

American solar system manufacturer Solyndra announced on Wednesday that it would suspend operations immediately and file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

More than 1,000 employees are laid off, effective immediately.

The company offered "global economic and solar industry market conditions" as the reason, though being on the hook for a $535 million loan from the U.S. Treasury's Federal Financing Bank in March 2009 couldn't have helped -- although you could make the counter-argument that it's the only way the company survived for this long. (The money was used to expand manufacturing capacity in Fremont, Calif.)

Options for the company's bankruptcy include the licensing its CIGS technology and manufacturing expertise and an outright sale of its business.

The company falls from a high perch. It saw strong growth in the first half of 2001, particularly in North America, where it inked several deals for large commercial rooftop installations. In the last two years, it received visits from U.S. energy secretary Steven Chu, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and U.S. president Barack Obama.

But Solyndra says it could not achieve full-scale operations rapidly enough to compete with the resources of larger foreign manufacturers. Governmental uncertainty in Europe, the decline in credit markets and a global oversupply of solar panels -- and subsequent reduction in prices -- was too much to bear, it said.

"Regulatory and policy uncertainties in recent months created significant near-term excess supply and price erosion," Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison said in a statement. "Raising incremental capital in this environment was not possible. This was an unexpected outcome and is most unfortunate."

It's not the only solar firm to go belly-up. Earlier this month, Evergreen Solar called it quits for the same reasons, though SmartPlanet editor-in-chief Larry Dignan said it was mismanagement that did the company in .

Photo: Lawrence Jackson/White House

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