(Fortune Tech) Back in 2007, solar energy was one of the hottest stock sectors around. Oil prices were soaring to record highs, solar IPOs were winning warm welcomes and some stocks were rising exponentially. First Solar (FSLR) and Ascent Solar Technologies (ASTI) both rose 800% throughout the year. Then in 2008, a few months after oil prices peaked at $145 a barrel, the credit crisis hit, leaving few banks willing to lend money to finance costly solar-manufacturing plants. Demand for solar panels softened as European governments began eliminating solar subsidies. At the same time, China invested aggressively to expand the production capacity of its solar companies. The result was a rapid decline in solar-module prices. In recent months, the lean times began to take their toll. Solyndra, famously, filed for bankruptcy in September. A few weeks earlier, Evergreen Solar This article is a linkout.