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Solar company Solyndra to close factory, cut jobs

November 3, 2010 |  6:28 pm

It isn’t easy being green for Solyndra Inc., the controversial Bay Area solar power system manufacturing company.

The company said Wednesday that it is shuttering one of its factories to save $60 million in capital expenditures, laying off 40 employees and letting the contracts for more than 100 temporary workers expire.

All this despite a $535-million federal loan guarantee, more than $1 billion in private equity funds and supportive visits from luminaries such as  Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and President Barack Obama.

Obama Solyndra has had a tough year. Its founding chief executive, Chris Gronet, stepped down and the company abandoned plans for a much-anticipated initial public offering because of difficult market conditions.

Now, Solyndra is closing down its first factory just months after opening its second, where the company said expansion will be delayed. Instead of reaching 610 megawatts of production capacity by 2013 as initially planned, the company will aim for up to 300 megawatts.

Competition from other solar panel makers is a major culprit. Manufacturers in Chinaespecially are offering hard-to-beat prices. Solyndra’s cylindrical copper indium gallium selenide solar cells are also more expensive to produce than most.

Perhaps there was a hint at the recent Solar Power International trade show, where Solyndra representatives said that the company planned to cut costs in half over the next year after already halving them over the last eight months.

Then again, they also said Solyndra intended to boost capacity 250% this year and next.

--Tiffany Hsu

Photo: President Obama gives a speech to Solyndra employees in May. Credit: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times

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