Abound Solar updates position; will file for insolvency

The thin film cadmium telluride (CdTe) module manufacturer broke the news in a statement released last night. Prior to this, GTM Research had announced that the company would have to close its doors after failing to find a buyer. In the statement, Abound said that while discussions with potential buyers had been ongoing for several months, "the involved parties were unable to come to an agreement on terms."

The company added that while it believes CdTe technology can compete with its crystalline rival, at scale, the "aggressive" prices coming from Chinese crystalline module suppliers means it is "very difficult for an early stage startup company like Abound to scale in current market conditions." With regards to the ongoing U.S.-Sino trade case, it said that it supported the move, but that the action came "too late".

Before the negotiations failed, the company was preparing to scale-up operations on its second generation CdTe module, which was confirmed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to deliver 85 watts per panel and 12.5 percent efficiency. However, GTM Research’s analysts wrote yesterday that company had neither the cost nor the downstream reach to compete in the market. Furthermore, they said its modules also offered "little differentiation" over First Solar’s and the efficiency was lower.

In February, Abound halted the manufacture of its first generation modules and temporarily cut 180 permanent jobs at its Colorado facilities. At the time, the company said it expected to resume mass production by the end of 2012. A spokesman additionally told pv magazine, "We expect to hire as many and potentially more employees when we re-start manufacturing, which we expect to be in six to nine months."

At the end of 2010, Abound was awarded an up to $400 million Department of Energy (DOE) guarantee. In last night’s statement, the company explained that of this, it used just $70 million to set up its manufacturing lines in Colorado. Meanwhile, it received $300 million in private investment. "Abound has not drawn down any further DOE funds since August of 2011 when the DOE determined that challenging market conditions in the solar industry did not merit additional funding risk," it explained.

The statement concluded, "Abound is appreciative of the significant investment from private investors and the U.S. Department of Energy. Employees should be proud of their continuous innovation and daily efforts to support customers. Abound believes that competitive solar energy remains important to U.S. energy security and job creation; and that longer term, consistent renewable energy policy is critical to encourage further private investment in this sector."