Solyndra Gets Serious About Cutting Costs, Hires New CEO

by Terrence Murray - July 27, 2010

Brian Harrison, Solyndra's new CEO

Solyndra, the Fremont, Calif., maker of cylindrical solar photovoltaic systems,� has hired chip industry executive Brian Harrison as its new� president and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Task number one for Harrison will be cutting Solyndra’s production costs, something he’s got experience doing most recently as CEO of Numonyx, an Intel venture sold in 2008 to Boise, Idaho-based Micron Technology. Harrison replaces Solyndra’s founding CEO Chris Gronet, who stays on as Chairman.

Before Numonyx, Harrison cut his manufacturing teeth at Intel, overseeing the company’s global� wafer manufacturing facilities. He also oversaw Intel’s sales and marketing for� Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

In a prepared statement, outgoing CEO :

Brian�s strong understanding of sophisticated manufacturing operations, history of achieving significant product and manufacturing cost reductions, and experience in building an international sales and marketing organization make him the right person to lead our growth.

While Solyndra’s solar technology is widely admired, its high cost is a major hurdle and was one reason the company opted to fold its $300 million IPO last June. Solyndra blamed poor market conditions but a widely circulated S1, that for the first time highlighted the company’s (high) operational costs, also helped dampen investor-confidence.

Solyndra panels currently manufacture for about $3.00/watt. A spokesman says one of Harrison’s tasks will be to brings costs down to about $2.00/watt by 2013. That’s still pretty high compared to thin-film PV maker First Solar’s $0.81 cents/watt production costs.

Is an IPO still in the works? A company spokesman declined� to say, limiting his comments to a boilerplate, “we’re exploring all financing options.”

Solyndra, with the $535 million Department of Energy loan guarantee, it scored earlier this year, has got some cash, which it’s using to build a manufacturing facility. It currently generates some $200 million in revenues but expects to double that amount next year, when its new Fab 2 manufacturing line goes into production.

Last week we reported that Corby Whitaker joined Solyndra as head of North American sales.

Photo: Solyndra via BusinessWire

2 Responses to “Solyndra Gets Serious About Cutting Costs, Hires New CEO”

  1. [...] at Intersolar, a major industry event, re-emerged this week in a big way. It started off the week by announcing the hiring of a new CEO, former Intel executive Brian Harrison. He replaces founding CEO Chris Gronet (who stays on as [...]

  2. [...] installed Harrison in July, is now struggling to justify the early hype by bringing costs down from $3/watt to $2/watt by 2013 and ramping up revenues. Tags: Brian Harrison, Fab 1, Fab 2, Initial Public Offering, IPO, [...]

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