4:11pm

Fri April 29, 2011
Business

Ascent Solar Cuts Workforce, Launches New Direction

Thornton-based Ascent Solar Technologies has cut its workforce from 167 employees as of last September to 85. That’s according to recent quarterly filings made with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Many of the layoffs were in the production division. That’s because the company is changing course, hoping that its lightweight solar panels will be more interesting to niche markets. CEO Ron Eller says that translates into innovating new products, like one prototype that incorporates panels into tent flaps for the military.

“You can power the radio, you can power computers, there’s a lot of computing power up in the forward military bases now,” says Eller.

The company had previously focused on a more traditional path: rooftop solar panels. But Eller says that market is growing soft. That's due to a recent decline in subsidies, particularly in Europe.

“Our solar technology is flexible and lightweight. [That] allows us to shift our focus to some emerging premium markets rather than fighting the battle down to the lowest prices in the European rooftops,” he says.

Ascent Solar is also working on panels for other consumer items, as well as busses and trains.