Somewhere at the end of this long, dark tunnel of solar corporate insolvencies and failures lies a sweet future of healthy and strong solar manufacturing firms.
In the meantime:
Day4 Energy of British Columbia, formerly listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: DFE), has voluntarily delisted its common shares from the exchange as well as entered an asset transfer to a company owned by its CEO and CFO for the sum of $500,000. The firm has PV cell interconnection and other solar module and cell technology that it once looked to license.
The Swiss firm, VHF-Technologies, also known as Flexcell, has halted production of its 25-megawatt roll-to-roll (Strike 1) amorphous silicon (Strike 2) solar product for BIPV applications (Strike 3), according to reports in La Cote. The firm deposited amorphous silicon (a-Si) on flexible plastic film via a very high frequency (VHF) plasma deposition technique. Flexcell received $9 million from the now insolvent Q-Cells in 2006. According to a release, Capricorn Capital has provided approximately $9 million to the company to keep it alive and its 50 employees working for the next few months. A low-single-digit efficiency, small-scale, non-bankable solar firm with uncertain reliability stands little chance of survival in the current solar market environment.
Pramac, a division of a Swiss firm that had shipped more than 40 megawatts of amorphous silicon solar panels built with equipment from Oerlikon has filed for insolvency, according to PV-Tech.
Hoku (Nasdaq: HOKU) issued a statement that confirmed that it had "substantially reduced construction activities at the polysilicon production facility of Hoku Materials, its subsidiary, in December 2011, and by April 2012, all construction contractors had stopped work." Hoku's stock price is currently trading at $0.09 per share and the firm has a market cap of $5 million.
The release announced that as of March 31, 2012, "its preliminary estimates of cash, other current assets and current liabilities was approximately $7.7 million, $6.7 million, and $278.8 million, respectively. The current liabilities include approximately $74.4 million of accounts payable at Hoku Materials. Due to the delinquency of unpaid construction obligations, liens have been filed against the Hoku Materials polysilicon plant, and some lienholders have begun foreclosure proceedings in the Idaho courts."
Hoku Materials reported that it terminated approximately 100 of its Pocatello plant employees and "ceased business activities and terminated all its staff at Tianwei Solar USA." Hoku is a subsidiary of Tianwei New Energy Holdings, which is an affiliate of China South Industries Group Corporation (CSGC). CSGC is a mammoth firm with 191,000 employees. Tianwei manufactures polysilicon, wafers, cells and modules. Hoku Solar, its solar installation division with business in Hawaii, might be able to survive the restructuring of Hoku Materials.
Hoku manufactures, well, nothing. Hoku started out as a fuel cell company, went public in 2005, and pivoted into being a solar manufacturer with $2 million in "service and license revenue" in 2011 according to a recent 10-K filing.
These firms join the growing number of German (Q-Cells, Soltecture, Odersun, Solar Millennium, Sovello, etc.) and American (ECD, Evergreen, SpectraWatt, Solyndra, Energy Innovations, etc.) solar companies that are no longer with us. There will be more.