US organic solar energy firm Konarka has filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, and has ceased its activities with immediate effect.
Under chapter 7 of the US Federal Bankruptcy Laws, the company's operations cease and a trustee is tasked with liquidating the company's assets for the benefit of creditors. Creditors will be asked to submit their claims to the Bankruptcy Court and are unable to obtain payment from the company.
No details have yet emerged on whether the company's technology will be sold to recoup costs and how that process will be completed. However the process of winding up the company has been rapid: all production has ceased, and all staff have already been let go.
Howard Berke, chairman, president and CEO of Konarka, states: 'The company has been unable to obtain additional financing, and given its current financial condition, it is unable to continue operations. This is a tragedy for Konarka's shareholders and employees and for the development of alternative energy in the US.
Efforts to commercialise the company's organic solar cell technology, called Power Plastic, had stuttered. Although the company had identified markets for its technology - including building-integrated photovoltaics and automotive glass - these efforts had failed to yield sustained market adoption and orders. Konarka launched its first commercial product, a bag with integrated energy harvesting, in 2009. This product also failed to extend beyond its initially positive niche sales.
The firm announced its bankruptcy in the middle of an investment round, having already secured $170 million (€136 million) in investment, with an additional $30 million from the US government, according to Lux Research.
A statement from Lux Research on the bankruptcy adds: 'Raising funding, more than solar module development, was where [Konarka] excelled. Finding market success in emerging technologies takes many factors, but a viable technology underpins all of them, something that Konarka never had and no credible path to attain.'
Konarka is the fourth alternative energy company to file for bankruptcy in the past year; however it is the first to not use silicon in its panels.
Power Plastic held a 9% efficiency rating, with shorter lifetimes than silicon rivals. The company had plans for, and built, a 1GW production line; however it never came close to achieving these levels.
A full analysis of Konarka's fortunes and what will happen with its technology will feature in the next issue of +Plastic Electronics magazine.
Documents and links
Konarka press release
Konarka Technologies Files for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Protection
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