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Q-Cells, Solar Trust of America File for Bankruptcy; Serious Energy Sheds Staff

Solar manufacturers Q-Cells and Solar Trust of America have filed for bankruptcy, leaving the fate of a 1,000 MW California solar thermal project in doubt, while green building firm Serious Energy is shedding staff, according to reports.

Q-Cells is the fourth major German-owned solar manufacturer to file for bankruptcy since December, Bloomberg says. With around 2,300 employees, it is one of Germany’s largest renewable energy employers, the news service reports.

The German state of Saxony-Anhalt may help the company restructure, according to Mitteldeutsche Zeitung.

Hours after the Q-Cells announcement, Solar Trust America, which is 70 percent owned by already-bankrupt German solar firm Solar Millennium, also announced it was to file for bankruptcy.

The announcement leaves the future of company’s 1,000 MW Blyth Solar Power Project (pictured) in Blyth, Calif., in question, reports Renewableenergyworld.com. The facility was expected to be the largest solar thermal facility in the world.

In an interview with Reuters, Blythe City manager David Lane said that he expects that “someone somewhere will buy it and build it.”

Serious Energy’s woes center around a scaling down and refocusing of its operations, reports GreenTech Media. The company is dropping staff related to its building energy efficiency and financing lines of business, and focusing on its core green drywall and windows business, the news site reports.

The company, formerly known as Serious Materials, rebranded itself last June to reflect its growing suite of energy software services and energy-efficiency building products. But now it appears to be going back to its roots. Departures include SunEdison co-founder Claire Broido Johnson, who last November helped launch SeriousCapital, the company’s financial services arm. A number of other executives left between September last year and January 2012.

Kevin Surace – the man GreenTech credits with leading Serious’ “ever-changing set of business strategies” – lost his job as CEO in February and is now listed as chairman and co-founder.

In the past year, Serious has also conducted some high-profile poaching. Last summer John Pitcher, founder of energy software company Scientific Conservation, jumped ship to become the building materials firm’s vice president of research and development. Chip Pieper joined Serious’s software and services, business development and operations management team.

Scientific hit back by filing suit in the Superior Court of Georgia, charging violations of trade secrets and breach of contract, among other allegations.

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