Reports surfaced on Monday that SoloPower had sent a mandatory notice to Oregon state officials that it would layoff 29 workers. Local media reported that the notice blamed a "significant downturn" had cause the company to conduct a "major reorganization." The notice continued: "SoloPower’s decision to reduce its operations in the Portland facility is expected to be permanent." The layoffs will occur as of June 17.
The company has released a statement today confirming that steps are been taken to reduce operating costs. The statement continues that the firm is seeking a strategic partner; to take its technology and production plans further.
SoloPowers CEO, Rob Campbell added to the statement: "Having established the existence of global demand for our unique light weight products, and having reached new performance milestones for internal process efficiency, we are determined to continue to develop relations with potential strategic partners to help us reach our full potential."
SoloPower had received a US$10 million state loan and $20 million tax credit to expand its manufacturing operations.
SoloPower produced CIGS flexible modules which is hoped would be applied to roofs where weight is an issue, flex roofing or for integration in roofing shingles. Despite the potential these applications do hold, other manufacturers in the space have not been able to deliver a cost-competitive solution and have ceased operations, such as Global Solar.
Concerns over the cost of the encapsulation material used for flexible modules have worried industry analysts regarding the prospects of flexible modules in the current market. Flexible encapsulation can cost many times more than using glass.
Reacting to the news, Renewable Analytics Dirk Morbitzer told pv magazine that industry consolidation would continue throughout the year. "We will continue see further market consolidation and additional companies leave the marker." The U.S.-based industry consultant continued, "there are a lot of companies still out there, there is a lot of technology development happening and not all of the technology will actually make it."
SoloPower had planned to hit 5 MW of production in Q4 2012, "ramping quickly" to 75 MW and then to 100 MW, on its first line at the Portland fab. The company had a goal to reach a staff of 450, when all manufacturing lines are operating. Its fab had commenced production in October, 2012.