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German solar maker Solon hits the skids

Solar manufacturer Solon files for insolvency, the latest victim of a crushing price war in solar that has helped bring down at least three U.S.-based solar manufacturers.

Martin LaMonica/CNET

Berlin-based solar panel manufacturer Solon filed for insolvency, another sign of how brutal price competition is shrinking the industry.

Solon yesterday said it was unsuccessful in restructuring its loans with banks. It will now seek to restructure those loans for three of its subsidiaries through insolvency proceedings.

The move follows the company's decision earlier this year to close its Tucson, Arizona manufacturing operation.

Solon is the latest victim in a wrenching consolidation that's spreading through the global solar industry.

In the U.S., once-successful solar panel maker Evergreen Solar filed for bankruptcy this summer and has sold off its assets. Less established companies Solyndra, SpectraWatt, and Stirling Energy Systems have also gone out of business this year.

The primary reason for these failed businesses is low-cost competition, led by Chinese manufacturers. It's estimated panel prices have fallen more than 50 percent in the last two and a half years.

Industry analysts say that more solar companies, including those in China, will either be bought or shut down as solar panels have become commodities. Government subsidies for solar are also at risk, making the demand picture in the years ahead unclear.

Germany leads the world in solar energy adoption and has some of the industry's leading manufacturers. The country's two other large producers are Q-Cells and Solarworld, which is involved in the U.S. in a trade dispute seeking to put duties on Chinese solar products.