Equipment auction sounds the final note for Hanergy-owned Alta Devices, high-efficiency PV pioneer


The auction at All Surplus puts the physical and intellectual property remains of thin-film solar innovator Alta Devices on the block and closes out this sad solar story of capital destruction. Alta was not shy about capital equipment purchases, so if you’re in the need of some lightly used, highly sophisticated thin film production equipment, you’ve come to the right place.

Late last year, pv magazine broke the story that Hanergy-owned Alta Devices, the world record efficiency holder for single-junction solar cells, furloughed almost all of its Sunnyvale, California staff without pay, notice, or PTO.

Sad solar saga

In 2013, Hanergy acquired VC-funded gallium-arsenide solar developer Alta Devices for an undisclosed amount. Alta joined CIGS firms MiaSolé, Solibro and Global Solar Energy under the Hanergy roof.

Over the course of 2020, China’s Hanergy “furloughed” almost all the employees and halted manufacturing at those three American solar companies and at Germany’s Solibro — as well as at its China headquarters. Those unannounced layoffs with no pay or benefits  left more than 600 American workers in the U.S., 180 employees in Germany, and thousands in China unemployed and in the dark.

Hanergy’s rise and fall

In 2015, Hanergy became the world’s largest solar company by market cap, and Li Hejun, the founder of Hanergy Group, China’s fifth-richest man. The Hong Kong-listed subsidiary of Hanergy, Hanergy Thin Film Power Group, had a market cap of $14 billion compared to the $5.5 billion market cap of First Solar, an actual solar firm, at that time.

The company’s stock price plunged and trading in Hanergy Thin Film shares was halted in May 2015 after news that the company’s finances had been inflated by intra-unit trading. Hanergy was eventually delisted.

Unable to pay its debts, Hanergy was forced to sell its only real asset, a hydro power station, to creditors.

Hanergy corporate has not responded to repeated inquiries from pv magazine.

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