Suntech Power Holdings
The big news, however, is that Suntech expects a loss of $147 to $179 million. The loss comes due to charges paid to wind down two side experiments: amorphous silicon panels and and investment in wafer maker Shunda. Closing down the amorphous project will result in $50 to $55 million in charges while Suntech will pay $106 to $126 million to Shunda.
Suntech has experimented with thin film for a while and the results haven't been pretty. A big part of the reason has been the decline in crystalline silicon solar panels. Why make less efficient thin films when crystalline panels sell for $1.85 a watt?
Suntech has had three thin film experiments underway. It bought an Applied Materials
Late last year, Suntech also quietly bought a controlling interest in CSG Solar, which makes crystalline silicon-on-glass modules. In March, Suntech chief marketing officer Steve Chan told us that CSG was being retooled.
"It [CSG] had made product and shipped it commercially, but it is no longer produced because the ASPs (average selling prices) have fallen so low," he said. "They are retooling the product to make it more cost-effective."
CSG had raised $35 million from VCs in 2009 before solar prices plummeted.
In March, Chan told us Suntech had an unnamed thin film project that was incubated in-house. Whether the announcement today impacts all three thin film experiments or just the SunFab amorphous effort is unclear, but there is a good chance that all three don't have long to live.
Branching out doesn't seem to be a company forte at the moment. Gemini Solar, a Suntech joint venture that develops solar power plants, landed a comparatively small 30-megawatt plant announced a little over a year ago but has largely been inactive since. Gemini has undergone several changes since then, too, according to sources, and not for the better. It's hard to say what the scope or target date of that project is. By contrast, First Solar
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