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Solyndra to file for bankruptcy; suspends operations

Solar company--the latest this month to file for bankruptcy protection--cites "global economic and solar industry market conditions" as the reason.

President Obama has been among the high-profile visitors to solar firm Solyndra in recent years. Lawrence Jackson/White House

American solar-system manufacturer Solyndra announced today that it would suspend operations immediately and file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

More than 1,000 employees have been laid off, effective immediately.

The company offered "global economic and solar industry market conditions" as the reason. In March 2009, the company received a $535 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Treasury's Federal Financing Bank. The money was used to expand manufacturing capacity in Fremont, Calif.

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

The company has fallen 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 past two years, it received visits from U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and 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.

This story was originally published on SmartPlanet.

Correction, 11:55 a.m. PT: This story initially had an incorrect photo credit. The credit is Lawrence Jackson/White House.