Applied Materials (AMAT) Exiting Thin Film Solar Biz To Focus On Silcon Solar, LED Lighting

Applied Materials (AMAT) is making a significant shift in its green energy strategy, abandoning its thin film solar business and focusing more on traditional solar technologies as well as LED.  The thin film solar business has never really gotten off the ground as evidenced by the languishing stock price of Energy Conversion Devices (ENER).  I don’t think it’s time to call the technology dead in the water, but when a company like Applied Materials decides to exit, it doesn’t bode well for the future of thin film.  Instead, AMAT will focus on traditional silicon solar as well as LED lighting to drive growth.  Smart move. 

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The company will restructure its Energy & Environmental Solutions segment, taking a hit of $400 million and cutting 500 jobs during the quarter.  In the long run, the company believes it can save $100 million a year in operating expenses and get to profitability in the segment by next year.  If they can ramp up their LED business, I don’t doubt it. 

New sales of its SunFab systems and individual tools for manufacturing thin film solar panels will be discontinued , although the company will continue its R&D operations and provide support to existing customers.

AMAT CEO Mike Splinter commented: “While Applied has delivered significant innovations with our SunFab production line and made substantial progress on our technology roadmap, the thin film market has been negatively impacted by several factors, including delays in utility-scale solar adoption, solar panel manufacturers’ challenges in obtaining affordable capital, changes and uncertainty in government renewable energy policies, and competitive pressure from crystalline silicon technologies.  Led by Mark Pinto, EES will focus on our industry-leading crystalline silicon solar business and on pursuing other opportunities in advanced energy technologies like LED lighting.”

2 thoughts on “Applied Materials (AMAT) Exiting Thin Film Solar Biz To Focus On Silcon Solar, LED Lighting”

  1. Applied Materials getting out of thin film has nothing to do with the viability of the technology. Applied faced two fundamental problems that had nothing to do with the market; their tools didn’t work, and they cost too much. A short search on the web will turn up many articles on both issues.


  2. I suppose the point I was making was that if they did see great potential in the technology, they would have put the resources into it. It’s a no vote from a company that knows the industry well. You could also take a look at companies in the field such as DSTI, ASTI and ENER which continue to languish.

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