Solar industry bloodbath leads to another bankruptcy

Industry pioneer Energy Conversion Devices, which makes flexible solar collectors, files for bankruptcy protection and intends to sell off its solar businesses.

Uni-Solar

Pioneering solar company Energy Conversion Devices today filed for bankruptcy protection, the latest casualty in a global price war.

In a statement, the Michigan-based company said it intends to sell its solar power subsidiaries and will continue to operate during the bankruptcy and sale process.

Through its subsidiaries Uni-Solar and Solar Integrated Technologies, the company manufactures flexible silicon solar cells and develops solar projects. The solar collectors can be laid out as sheets on rooftops or integrated into roof tiles.

Energy Conversion Devices was founded in 1960 by Stanford Ovshinsky, a scientist who was also integral to developing nickel metal hydride batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles in the 1990s. That business was sold to BASF this week for $58 million.

The company is filing for bankruptcy protection and will sell off its solar business because it is "burdened by our legacy costs and large amount of convertible debt," the company's director of business development told The Wall Street Journal. Energy Conversion Devices also shut down its manufacturing last year to conserve cash, according to Greentech Media.

Energy Conversion Device's flexible silicon cells are not as efficient as traditional flat solar panels at converting sunlight to electricity. In the past two years, the prices of solar panels have plunged, causing a number of solar manufacturers to go out of business and others to rack up big losses. Analysts expect more solar companies to go out of business and the industry to consolidate as prices continue to fall.

About the author

Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.

 

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