US: Federal-backed Amonix closes CPV facility

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The Las Vegas Review-Journal has said that while Amonix has not responded to calls for comment, the company began selling equipment in an online auction on Wednesday. Reportedly, the company received $6 million worth of federal tax credits and a $15.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy in 2007.

According to the journal, which was quoting Rene Kenerly, a former material and supply manager at Amonix, the plant has been idle since May 1. At its peak, he said, around 700 workers were employed there. "I don’t think they had a lot of training," Kenerly told the journal. "There were a lot of quality issues. A lot of stuff was coming back because it had some functionality issues." In January, the company was said to have let 200 workers go.

Kenerly added that many investors pulled back after Amonix CEO Brian Robertson’s death last year, and that the company was about $100 million in debt, including $34 million owed to OEM, Flextronics.

In April, pv magazine reported that the Las Vegas plant employed 300 workers. It was further said that later this year, Amonix, which is said to account for around 85 percent of the approximately 70 MW of global installed CPV capacity, had planned to produce its latest generation of CPV system. It was expected to improve on the power output of the current 60 kW system.

In a statement released yesterday, and quoted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada Senator, Harry Reid commented, "Last year, Amonix CEO Brian Robertson was tragically killed in a plane crash and unfortunately the company was unable to recover from this difficult time. Some people will be tempted to use today’s unfortunate news for political gain. But I am hopeful that the bipartisan support for this project and the public-private partnership that helped make this and many other projects possible will not be degraded by dirty energy supporters for their own profit or political gain."

Amonix’s closest competitors are Soitec and SolFocus. All three companies have said they have substantial pipelines of projects for completion in the next two to four years.

Amonix, established 1989, is headquartered in Seal Beach. In addition to North Las Vegas, it has facilities in Torrance, California.