Solar startup Miasole to lay off around 200

Miasole, a startup that’s raised over $500 million for its next-generation thin film solar technology, is laying off around 200 people, reports Venture Wire. Miasole said yesterday that it planned to “reorganize manufacturing and operations” but didn’t give details beyond that.

Miasole makes a type of next-generation solar panel technology that uses the combo of materials, copper, indium, gallium and selenium (CIGS), to convert sunlight into electricity. A group of these companies have raised billions of dollars to create this technology, and many of them are now suffering layoffs and even bankruptcies (the most famous of these is Solyndra).

Miasole had been struggling to survive in a solar market that has seen many large manufacturers shutter factories over the past year. The price of silicon (the main component in traditional solar panels) has plummeted and because of Chinese government subsidies, there is an oversupply of cheap solar panels. This environment has delivered a lethal blow to some of these CIGS firms.

Miasole said a couple months ago that it had raised $55 million to help it enter new markets and boost its sales staff, while it works on lining up more investors and partners in order to truly scale up its operation. In the announcement yesterday Miasole said it is continuing “strategic discussions with potential partners,” to try to ensure its long-term success, and that is is now focusing on cost cutting.

The company needs a white knight, or acquirer, to come to its rescue. In recent months Asian giants have played this role in cleantech. SK Group has backed Heliovolt, which makes a similar technology to Miasole, and Chinese auto giant Wanxiang has invested in A123 Systems, Smith Electric Vehicles and GreatPoint Energy.

Miasole’s CEO John Carrington says in the release:

The company is looking forward to aligning with a partner and collectively executing on our technology roadmap, flexible product launch and additional capacity to fulfill our 1GW+ commercial pipeline. I am confident based on current discussions we will finalize a partnership within the next 60-90 days.”

Miasole’s investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, VantagePoint Venture Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, Firelake Capital and Passport Capital.