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Advent Solar Shuts Manfacturing Plant August 1, 2008

Posted by OldGuy in solar.
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Solar is hot, right?  Then why aren’t solar companies selling products hand over fist?  That brings us to the story of Advent Solar.

In February, Advent Solar won a marketing award.  Advent is a leading manufacturer of innovative solar cells and modules. Its unique, exclusive EWT cell technology was originally developed at Sandia National Laboratories and is in a class of solar cells referred to as back-contact cells. This technology is the basis for Advent’s high performance products with the potential for dramatically lower cost than conventional solar photovoltaic technology.

So, fresh off such prestigious press, with notice to the world that this company produces some of the best solar cells available, Advent Solar decided it wasn’t enough.  Less than 3 weeks after the award was announced, Advent has closed up manufacturing.   Rather than produce solar cells for sale, they laid off all 68 manufacturing staff (but not the marketing staff).

They say they want to retool for new technology.  The CEO, on the job less than a single fiscal quarter, announced he wanted to retool the whole plant for a new kind of solar cell.  Rather than continue manufacturing, providing collaboration between R&D and those who actually produce the results, he sent his workforce packing.

“Once the technology solution is perfected and put into place, this company has excellent long-term prospects,” said CEO Peter Green. “We will be looking to hire back any of our employees who are interested in returning. There’s not a one I wouldn’t hire back.”

They freely admit that “The industry is growing at 30% to 40% per year, and with the cost of oil going through the roof, demand will remain strong.”

All I have to say is, it better be a huge improvement, at an appropriate price point, or Green will have just closed the company.  And unless he can offer significant incentives to the employees who trust he has just destroyed, it’s gonna take more than a year to get them back.

Look for solar to take off in the market place.  Just be careful putting too many bets on Advent.

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