News Article

Competition Challenges CPV

The future of what was to be the world’s largest concentrating photovoltaic power plant is now in doubt, after administrator PriceWaterhouseCoopers took over the running of its developer, Solar Systems.
Although PWC wants the Australian company to continue “on a reduced scale in order to restructure and sell the business as a going concern", it made two-thirds of Solar Systems’ 150 staff redundant on September 11. Construction was due to begin on a 154 MW flagship project this year, but until investors are found it seems business will be limited to maintaining the 0.72 MW of power stations it operates. The news will be especially bad to III-V cell manufacturer Spectrolab, which had signed a $100 million-plus agreement to supply 500,000 cell assemblies to Solar Systems. With backing from both the Australian government and TruEnergy, Solar Systems appeared to have the right support to develop the 154 MW station. However, TruEnergy’s parent China Light and Power (CLP) said that it was to take a HK$346 million loss on its 20 percent stake in Solar Systems and has stated it does not wish to be the primary investor.

Explaining its move, CLP highlights fierce competition, both for credit and sales, in the crowded solar marketplace. Not only are start-ups facing difficulty gaining financing but they compete with companies who are cutting prices after the recent slowdown. It is likely that a similar situation could occur amongst the suppliers of based triplejunction solar cells, as their ranks swell and the technology surges ahead.
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