The decision by German renewable-energy firm Solar Millennium to file for insolvency has upended the company’s Africa expansion plans, with at least one multimillion-dollar project slipping through its hands this year.
Solar Millennium, which has focused primarily on the design and implementation of solar-thermal powerplants, filed for bankruptcy in the Germany city of Fuerth. The bankruptcy confirms earlier predictions by solar-energy analysts who said a tumble in solar-panel prices would make business tough for leading global solar developers.
Four months earlier, before Solar Millennium filed for insolvency, green-tech firm Solyndra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Although the Silicon Valley-based firm had raised $1 billion from investors and secured a federal loan guarantee for $500 million, Solyndra announced it was closing shop and sending home over 1,000 workers.
“Despite strong growth in the first half of 2011 and traction in North America with a number of orders for very large commercial rooftops, Solyndra could not achieve full-scale operations rapidly enough to compete in the near term with the resources of larger foreign manufacturers,” said Solyndra’s president and CEO, Brian Harrison. “This competitive challenge was exacerbated by a global oversupply of solar panels and a severe compression of prices that, in part, resulted from uncertainty in governmental incentive programs in Europe and the decline in credit markets that finance solar systems.”
The bankruptcy proceedings stymied Solar Millennium's plans to bid along with other partners on the 500-MW Ouarzazate Solar Complex Project in Morocco.
In April, media reports in Morocco had indicated the consortium was indeed among those prequalified for the project’s 125-MW first phase. However, the firm was dropped from the final list of prequalified firms by the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy. The project in Tamzaghten Izerki, 10 kilometers from the town of Ouarzazate, is part of a $9-billion, five-phase solar development plan that, by 2020, will have a combined capacity of 2,000 MW, which is equivalent to 38% of Morocco’s current installed capacity.