American solar cell pioneers bankrupted by Obama's DOE
Vast tranches of DOE-money have been released by the Democrats into politically-connected "renewable energy" companies, ostensibly in order to subsidize industries manufacturing solar energy generating photovoltaic cells. One consequence of this giant injection of cash into a fragile and limited market is that existing market participants, companies that may have long pioneering track-records in the industry, suddenly must face vastly subsidized competition from the likes of Solyndra.
Let's remember that there are many applications of solar cells that do not require subsidies, so there is a base market in the silicon-cell product. Into this small market is dumped courtesy US taxpayer vast quantities of cut-price product distorting the market vastly in favor of customers of ALL market entrants including the legacy companies.
Two recent victims of this effect were pioneers in the industry: Solarex and Energy Conversion Devices (ECD). If you've ever used the thin disposable Sharp calculator, you have used an ECD thin-film solar cell manufactured by Sharp. The Detroit News reported on ECD's bankruptcy:
"What would happen to Energy Conversion Devices is that it would be wound down," said spokesman Michael Schostak. "It's essentially a break-up of the company."
ECD's United Solar Subsidiary was developing roof-top solar cell systems. Stanford Ovshinsky was ECD's founder; his storied career is recounted in January 1, 2012 issue of Crain's Detroit Business which notes:
"In 1987, the Public Broadcasting System program "Nova" aired an hourlong show on Ovshinsky titled "Japan's American Genius," about the regard in which he was held there."
Similar pioneers in photovoltaic cells founded Solarex in 1973. Oddly enough, Solarex ended life as a subsidiary of BP. I say oddly because Solarex was bought by Amoco in a previous era of "green activism" which had shamed oil companies to hurry-up and "invest their ill-gotten profits" into alternative energy technologies. Solarex's ability to furnish a green political inoculation was so potent it was once called AMOCO/ENRON Solarex.
"1973. The Solarex Corporation (now BP Solar) is formed to transfer solar electric technology from [NASA] space applications to commercial use on Earth.
1982 Solarex constructs the Frederick MD, US manufacturing plant, which includes a 200kW array - still one of the largest installations of building-integrated photovoltaics
1983 Amoco Oil acquires Solarex.
On December 20, 2011 Bloomberg reported on the complete demise of BP Solar
"Europe's second-largest oil company [BP] will wind down the unit over several months because it has become unprofitable, BP Solar Chief Executive Officer Mike Petrucci told staff in an internal letter last week. About 100 employees will be affected."
So there you have it. Two American pioneers in the solar cell industry with corporate memory dating from the era of the Apollo space programs sucked under and lost forever in the undertow of the vast flow of cheap product from their solar energy industry competitors backed by Obama cronies and subsidized with $billions from the Obama administration. Good Job Greens!