Burnaby's former great hope for solar energy, Day4Energy, rides into sunset
This morning, Business in Vancouver has reported that the B.C. Supreme Court has approved the transfer of assets from Burnaby-based solar-energy company Day4Energy to another firm controlled by businessmen George Rubin and Douglas Keast.
This comes after the company that developed photovoltaic cells and modules was delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange.
The writing was on the wall in management's discussion and analysis, which was issued on March 30. It included the following section about the state of the industry:
Our industry continues to face difficult times. Economic and financial uncertainty continues to affect investment climate and bank lending in both Europe and North America. This uncertainty has contributed to a number of government revisions to PV subsidy programs including, most notably, changes to the feed-in tariff in Italy as well as reductions in similar subsidy programs in Germany and in the UK. The PV manufacturing industry continues to operate in a period of substantial over-capacity. The combination of reduced demand and over-capacity has resulted in rapid declines in PV wafer, cell and module prices across the global industry. Mounting market pressure has forced a number of PV cell and PV module manufacturing companies to announce various forms of restructuring plans over the course of the last few months and has resulted in notable failures from some of the oldest PV companies.
In addition, the company had liabilities associated with an outsourced manufacting centre in Poland, which was wound down.
"We are not in agreement with one of our key suppliers that the Company owes the entire amount of recorded and accrued liabilities of approximately $11 million," the company stated in March. "Day4 takes the position that this amount is not owing due to the supplier’s product warranty obligations and failure to deliver product meeting stipulated specifications."
Several years ago, there were high hopes for Day4Energy, which was headed by John MacDonald, a cofounder and former CEO of B.C.'s most successful high-tech startup, MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates.
"Solar energy could enter the mainstream of electrical generation in 10 years," MacDonald told the Straight in 2006. "Wind, tidal, biomass are all possible alternatives, but we've got to start now."
Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that B.C. will be at the forefront anymore, thanks to photovoltaic panels from China and other low-wage countries flooding the international market.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.