LG Doubles Down On Solar

on October 20, 2011 at 6:00 AM

Large technology and manufacturing firms are boosting their investment in solar components, leveraging large balance sheets and access to capital as they introduce new products while smaller competitors struggle.

The collapsing price of solar panels has brought down several firms in recent months, and is blamed in part for the high-profile bankruptcy of Solyndra, a Department of Energy-backed firm that claimed it had a high-technology solution but was unable to bring down costs or expand quickly enough in the rapidly-transforming solar business.

LG Solar, part of Korean-based international giant LG Electronics, says it will be able to launch higher-performing products into the market despite falling costs because of its financial and manufacturing heft.

“While increased competition has resulted in lower prices for consumers, many solar panels have found themselves in financial distress, even bankruptcy,” LG said in detailing its recently-launched Mono X and Multi X panels at the Solar Power International 2011 show in Dallas, Texas this week.

LG Solar has the financial strength to continue selling into the fast-growing US marketplace, the senior vice president of parent unit LG Electronics USA James Lee said. “The US is one of the fastest-growing solar markets in the world and LG solar is keeping pace with this lively marketplace,” Lee said.

LG Solar says its two new panels operate at higher efficiency levels than conventional solar panels; 8.3% higher for the LG Mono and 4.3% for the LG Multi. The panels’ smaller footprint is also appealing for domestic customers and building owners, the company said.

Solar panel functioning has become increasingly controversial as new larger-scale data about performance has begun to flow, and the industry remains divided between large-scale hub-and-spoke utility scale systems and so-called “distributed solar” built on a smaller scale and allowing individual buildings the option to go on or off of grid power.