Pioneering solar manufacturer SolarWorld AG is insolvent. It is unclear whether the company’s U.S. subsidiary must now file as well.
The solar industry’s biggest problem is likely the very mechanism that led to its rise: lucrative subsidies.
European subsidies, mostly in Germany, led to a massive expansion of the companies green energy industry, but eventually subsidies became their undoing as cheaper solar panels from China began to win out.
Cuts to subsidies in Europe only made things worse for the solar industry, furthering ensuring cheap Chinese panels would win out. A similar story played out in the U.S. where lucrative federal and state subsidies spurred green energy.
SolarWorld has gotten a whopping $115 million in federal and state grants and tax subsidies since 2012, according to the Union-backed group Good Jobs First. And that’s on top of the nearly $91 million in federal loan guarantees the company got during that time.
Solarworld lost 80 percent of its stock value after it announced bankruptcy filings Wednesday.