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.
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.”