Planet Gore

An Update on Obama’s Taxpayer-Financed Venture-Capital Bets

Solar-panel company Solyndra and electric-car maker Tesla — both financed (and one could argue, bailed out) with taxpayer money last year — are going public. Up first, analysis of Solyndra, which received over $500 million in loan guarantees:

Solyndra’s innovative photovoltaic glass cylinders are full of it — full of vacuum, silicone and thin-film CIGS in a relatively low-efficiency configuration.  Several of Solyndra’s VC investors have told me that the real value for Solyndra is in the cost savings in the Balance of System. Will the institutional investors who drive the success of an IPO buy the Solyndra BoS story?  Especially when the cost per watt of c-Si and FSLR CdTe continues to fall?  And the cost of Solyndra’s product seems somewhat bloated?

A lot rests on the shoulders of Solyndra: the perception of the viability of CIGS technology, the perception of the viability of VC investment in solar manufacturing, and the skill of the DOE in picking technology winners.

We parsed the Solyndra S-1 here.

GTM Research analyst Shyam Mehta did a masterful job at dissecting the Solyndra situation here.

Here is the Solyndra S-1.

An exploration of Solyndra’s price per watt

Doesn’t sound too good. How about Tesla?

Like Solyndra and A123, Tesla is a “story stock.” And like A123 and Solyndra, Tesla anticipates “continuing losses for at least the foreseeable future.”  A123 and Telas stand as proxy for the EV vison, Solyndra for the promise of new solar technologies.

Tesla reports having sold 937 cars through December 2009 to customers in 18 countries.

The company has booked 2,000 reservations for the $57,400 Model S, the all-electric sedan that enters volume production in 2012.  According to the SEC document, the Model S will offer a variety of range options, from 160 miles to 300 miles on a single charge. 

Major investors in Tesla are Elon Musk, Al Wahada Capital, a fund owned by the power and water authority of Abu Dhabi and Blackstar Investco, an investment arm of Daimler.

Michael Kanellos reported on the Tesla IPO numbers here.  Tesla’s S-1.

Will institutional investors back a lossy luxury car vendor with an unhealthy dependence on government loan guarantees?

As we were warned, gird your loins.

Archival PG coverage of Solyndra and Tesla.

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