In what Think Progress calls a “major step forward for both the solar company and the optics of the entire domestic industry,” San Mateo, California-based SolarCity is leasing a 200,000-square-foot production facility that once belonged to Solyndra, the now-bankrupt solar panel manufacturer.
SolarCity will operate the plant in Fremont, CA as a research and development centre, part of its drive to “use large economies of scale to further reduce the cost of solar power,” Think Progress reports.
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There is powerful symbolism in giving new life to a building that previously housed the firm that “has been the poster child of clean energy failure since 2011,” Phillips writes.
“The Department of Energy’s low-carbon technology loan program that backed Solyndra is expected to make taxpayers a $5 to $6 billion return over the course of the average 22-year loan life cycle.” But “the much-maligned solar manufacturing industry is still in the process of rehabilitating its public image after Solyndra failed to deliver on $500 million in taxpayer-backed loans.”
He adds that “contrary to Solyndra’s timing, when a glut of Chinese solar panels upended the U.S. market, SolarCity seems to have selected a more auspicious moment to make their foray into manufacturing.”
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