Solar Company Goes Bust After Getting Millions In Taxpayer Cash

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Another solar company went out of business after receiving millions of dollars in taxpayer cash, according to a Monday GreenTech Media article.

Beamreach, called Solexel until 2016, received $3 million in Department of Energy (DOE) funding in 2008. The company spent more than $250 million, mostly raised from private investors in Saudi Arabia, before going under.

Beamreach tried to produce highly efficient solar cells that only cost $0.42 per watt by 2014, but failed, according to GreenTech Media. The failure prompted Solexel to change its name to Beamreach last year, and try to enter the lucrative rooftop solar market.

Beamreach was unable to handle its substantial load of debt in the rooftop solar market and couldn’t attract new investors. This caused the company to enter what appears to be a liquidation bankruptcy.

Roughly five major solar companies closed up shop in 2015, which follows the historic tendency that solar power companies tend to go bankrupt as soon as the subsidies are cut off.

Most solar subsidies go to residential installations payments called net metering or a 30 percent federal tax credit. Previously, solar subsidies were so lucrative that solar-leasing companies installed rooftop systems, which run at minimum $10,000, at no upfront cost to the consumer. Companies do this because state and federal subsidies are so massive that such behavior is actually profitable, as solar companies simply cannot compete without government support.

Solar and wind power get 326 and 69 times more in subsidies than coal, oil, and natural gas, according to 2013 Department of Energy data collected by Forbes. Green energy in the U.S. received $13 billion in subsidies during 2013, compared to $3.4 billion in subsidies for conventional sources of energy and $1.7 billion in subsidies for nuclear, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.

Researchers found that expanding net metering or maintaining it for long periods of time will drive up power prices. Without government support, solar energy is non-viable, according to a 2015 study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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