October 25, 2011
Solyndra. The name of the solar panel manufacturer conjures up more than the solar panel image above. Images of bankrupcy and poor investment decisions by the United States Deptartment of Energy (DOE) come to mind. According to an Environmental-Finance.com news report, those behind the scenes of clean energy investing estimate 80% of investors would have said “bad idea!” to the DOE, who guaranteed a $535 million loan to Solyndra.
Wednesday, Vice-president of Research and Advisory of Cleantech Group, Greg Neichin, told the Society of Environmental Journalists’ annual conference,“There was certainly a lot of backroom discussions and chatter at the time that this was a risky bet.” Neichin also said Solyndra was in fierce competition with Chinese suppliers, and that, “Solyndra just lost. That’s just part of the game.”
If true, Solyndra was no more or less of a risk than many other newer technology companies. The Solyndra controversy may be good experience for the DOE, and for all of us. Future loan guarantees may not be so freely offered, but won’t companies offering unique renewable energy products and solid implementation techniques still get noticed?
The third quarter 2011 Cleantech Group report says solar companies received $350M in investments for 33 deals, the most transactions of a clean-tech sector in that period. The momentum toward clean technologies hasn’t slowed.
Let’s learn, move on, and continue to provide renewable energy solutions.