Solyndra: there's not a solar company in the world that inspires so many opinions.

The company has created a tubular copper, indium, gallium selenide (CIGS) solar module that it claims can be the most cost-effective solution around on the right roof. Nearly 100 megawatts of Solyndra panels have been installed worldwide.

2010 revenue came to over $140 million and 2009 revenue came to $100 million. Try to find another CIGS startup that is even close. 

The company has also shown a knack for honing in on specific customer segments. The IRS has ruled that customers can obtain investment tax credits for new roofs when installing Solyndra panels, a regulatory nuance that some developers say can put the cost of a Solyndra system below the cost of a crystalline one. Regulations in Italy and France could make the company a favorite in the agricultural solar market.

By the end of the year, the all-in price for its systems could drop to $3.50 a watt, which could mean power for under 14 cents per kilowatt hour. By the end of 2012 or the first quarter of 2013, Solyndra-based systems could sell for around $2 a watt, with the manufacturing cost for modules declining to $1.30 a watt.

Cue the critics. The company has had to endure delays and layoffs. Factory output was reduced from 600 megawatts in 2013 to 300 megawatts. An IPO got pulled last year. Fred Upton (R-Michigan), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman, has initiated an investigation into the use of stimulus funds by the company according to reports in The Hill. Solyndra, of course, obtained a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. The company applied for DOE loans before Obama became President and was the first company in line when the ARRA passed. It's hard to believe the company's only been around since 2005.

Meanwhile, other CIGS competitors like AQT Solar are increasing production and boosting efficiencies. Even General Electric will likely soon begin competing in thin film with the cadmium telluride panels developed in conjunction with PrimeStar Solar,

But why take my word for it? Come hear Ben Bierman, Executive Vice President of Operations and Engineering from Solyndra speak at our 2011 Solar Summit taking place in Palm Springs on March 14 and 15. Bierman speaks on a panel with Nick Cravalho, Vice President of Business Development & Marketing at Innovalight and Bruce McPherson, Vice President of Research and Development at Suniva.

Innovalight has also been one of the most influential solar companies when it comes to R&D in the past few years. Under the "Innovalight Model" it sells both components (a silicon ink) and licenses intellectual property to established manufacturers. Most of its customers are from China and Taiwan but it is expanding to India and South Korea.

Suniva, meanwhile, is threading the gap between high efficiency and low cost with ion implantation and other techniques. And unlike a lot of manufacturers, it says it can compete with factories based in the U.S. Growing from 32 megawatts to 170 megawatts between 2008 and 2010, Suniva experienced one of the quickest production ramps ever for a Western company. It is considered an IPO candidate for 2011.

It should be interesting. We hope to see you there.

Tags: 1366 technologies, arra, building integrated photovoltaics, china, cigs, crystalline silicon, department of energy, development, doe, exports, imports, innovalight, licensing, loan guarantees, manufacturing