Satcon Technology Corp., maker of a critical solar panel component called an inverter, filed for bankruptcy protection last October, but the company couldn’t find a buyer and has announced today that it will liquidate its assets. The company’s lender refused to finance the firm beyond tomorrow and Satcon’s board voted today to begin the Chapter 7 liquidation process.
Satcon, along with Enphase Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: ENPH) and Power-One Inc. (NASDAQ: PWER), made the solar inverters that converted direct current to alternating current that enabled the solar-generated electricity to be fed to the grid. Power-One’s inverters are similar to those once made by Satcom, while Enphase specializes in micro-inverters that convert the electricity at the module level instead of the installation level, making the devices cheaper, more efficient, and safer.
Power-One today announced that it had signed a deal with Panasonic to work on grid-connected energy storage systems for sale in the European and U.S. markets. Last week Enphase signed a partnership deal with Australian solar distributor RFI Solar.
The key to success in today’s solar components market is lowering costs. Cell costs have fallen through the floor, and lowering costs for inverters and mounting hardware had to continue to decline if solar installations were to remain competitive. Satcon couldn’t keep up with price cuts and that’s why the company will be in court tomorrow to seek permission for a liquidation.