October 4, 2011
By: John Clark
In the United States' tireless pursuit to develop energy alternatives to imported fossil fuels, the federal government has invested a lot of time and energy in helping the solar energy industry grow past its adolescent stage.
Unfortunately, the difficult economics of making solar power commercially viable on a broad scale have crippled another fledgling solar energy project.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Stirling Energy Systems Inc., which manufactures equipment for solar power systems, recently filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In Chapter 7, the solar energy company will look to liquidate its assets in order to pay debts owed to its creditors.
Stirling had been tasked with developing equipment for two large solar power plants. The plants, however, were unable to receive government-backed loans, and construction of the plants was put on hiatus.
News of Stirling's bankruptcy was particularly ominous for the solar industry as a whole, as Stirling was viewed as a rising star in the solar energy production business.
Sources indicate that weakened demand, falling prices due to competition from low-cost Asian firms, and fundraising difficulties have hampered an industry that was once viewed as the clear-cut favorite to replace the country's outdated models of energy production.
In addition to Stirling's recent >bankruptcy filing, another large solar energy company, Solyndra Inc., recently made headlines when it filed for bankruptcy protection after receiving more than $500 million in government assistance.
Solyndra's bankruptcy made waves recently in Congress, as politicians from both major parties railed against wasteful government spending on a company that was seeking bankruptcy.
Of course, despite the solar industry's recent woes, clean-energy experts still see solar and wind energy as two of the most viable long-term hopes for sustainable energy production in the United States.
Barring a dramatic decline in the price of oil, or radical shifts in the governing structures of the countries that hold most of the world's oil, the United States will likely continue to invest billions of dollars in clean energy development.