Thursday, September 1, 2011

Chalk one up for the anti-government crowd

The government's $535 million investment in solar technology firm Solyndra is for naught: the company has filed for bankruptcy. Republicans had long criticized the government funding and noted that one of the company's investors was an Obama contributor.

One reason for the company's failure was the drastic drop in the price of solar cells, noted earlier on this blog. The Chinese government has been subsidizing alternative energy, and firms there don't need to make as much as US firms to stay afloat, meaning that they can charge much less and still be fine. That low price has driven this US firm out of business, in spite of our own government's attempt to prop them up.

I'm chalking this one up to the Republicans, just like the battle over when Obama would present his jobs speech....

Update: the San Francisco Chronicle has an interesting follow-up piece talking about the industry as a whole. Although photo-voltaic cells are being cheaply mass-produced in China, some of the raw materials and machinery they use to do that come from the US, and the trade balance (according to this one source) still favors us here in the States. There's also an illustration of elasticity that my students might see again very soon....

Second update: the FBI is looking into Solyndra, as is Congress. Solyndra's President and CEO, Brian Harrison, apparently told two House members just a few months ago that all was well and he expected a doubling in revenue in 2011. As Rep. Waxman put it, that contrasts "rather starkly" with going belly-up!

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