For some time now, we've seen American solar panel manufacturers struggle to keep costs low enough to compete with their Chinese and Japanese counterparts. Last year, Massachusetts-based Evergreen Solar (NASDAQ: ESLR) had to move solar panel assembly to China (though retaining its manufacturing facility not far from Boston) in order to cut back on costs and please investors. But there has still been a certain sense of complacency about our R&D leadership: after all, industry mover and shaker First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR) started out in Tempe, Arizona, and high tech solar products under development at research institutions like MIT get a lot of press.
Massachusetts-based Evergreen Solar (NASDAQ: ESLR) believes the solar wafers it manufactures at its Fort Devens facility--and the solar panels built around the wafers--are on par with many traditionally cheaper solar panels manufactured in China. Why? Evergreen's unique "string ribbon" manufacturing process for crystalline silicon solar wafers cuts way down on raw materials, process, and waste costs. In a conference call, PV Tech reports, Evergreen CEO Richard Feldt said:
The solar panel manufacturer Evergreen Solar was lured to set up shop in Massachusetts by lucrative tax breaks and even grant money put together by renewable energy fan Governor Deval Patrick. But the company is moving a part of their production practice to China (see Connie's post on the move for more info). While the state is understandably aggrieved by this decision, stock analysts think it's a good choice: Evergreen has been struggling with cash flow to the point of having to downsize, and cutting costs however possible does make sense even if it's not a palatable or socially responsible decision.
Massachusetts-based solar cell manufacturer Evergreen Solar, bellwether of the Bay State’s push for clean energy, announced on Wednesday its plans to move solar panel assembly to China. The statement, appearing in the company’s filing of earnings for the third quarter of 2009, arrives less than a year after Evergreen opened the doors to its much-lauded plant in Devens, the recipient of $58.6 million in state aid. Of the 577 full-time and 230 contract workers at the Devens location, half are involved in assembling the panels, though the company declined to comment on how many would lose their jobs as a result of the move.
Evergreen Solar, the solar panel manufacturer lured to Massachusetts by a generous incentive package from Governor Deval Patrick, may be facing fiscal trouble and downsizing, the Boston Globe reports. The plant was built in a repurposed old Army base at Fort Devens two summers ago. While its welcome to the neighborhood could have been warmer, the plant has so far been making the state proud with more than 700 local employees.