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Beacon Power files bankruptcy

Two workers maintain solar panels on the roof of a warehouse on May 13, 2005 in Buerstadt, Germany.

Steve Chiotakis: Another energy company backed by a Department of Energy loan is going bankrupt. Beacon Power worked on power grid technology, and got $43 million from the federal government. The news comes as the bankrupt solar company Solyndra -- which got a lot of money from Uncle Sam -- is about to auction off its assets.

From the Marketplace sustainability desk, Eve Troeh reports.


Eve Troeh: From Solyndra's Fremont, Calif. headquarters, David Barkoff, with Heritage Global Partners, will direct auction sales, in person and online.

Barkoff expects hundreds of bidders from around the world...on things everyday and super-techy.

David Barkoff: So everything from executive office chairs to Edwards pumps and Kuka robots and 3-plus megawatts of finished solar panels.

Interest in the auction started slow, but it's picked up with other solar companies swooping in for deals, says solar analyst Shayle Kann at GTM Research.

He says overall investment in U.S. solar remains strong. Solyndra's shame hasn't spread across the industry.

Shayle Kann: Whatever attention is focused on Solyndra should rightly be focused on what happened with that particular company and why.

What happened is that Solyndra made its own solar panels, with experimental technology. Thanks to the cheaper prices of overseas competitors, that business model failed.

U.S. customers are expected to install twice as many solar panels this year but U.S. investors are flocking to solar companies that play it safe. Those that don't have their own factories, like Solyndra did.

I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.

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