Struggling Thornton solar panel manufacturer cuts staff (Local News and Reviews)

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A technician makes adjustments before sending solar cells down a manufacturing line at Ascent Solar’s plant in Thornton in 2010. (The Denver Post)

A struggling publicly traded solar panel manufacturer that brought on a new CEO last September has cut staff.

Jeffrey Max, CEO of Thornton-based Ascent Solar, acknowledged the cuts in a statement to BusinessDen, saying the roles eliminated “were in our CIGS production and support lines,” using an acronym to refer to copper indium gallium selenide.

Jeff Headshot

Jeffrey Max

Max declined to disclose how many employees were cut or how many remain. Ascent said in its most recent annual report submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it had 60 full-time and two part-time employees as of Dec. 31.

Max was named CEO of Ascent in September, tasked with turning around the company founded in 2005. The company said in filings that it lost $17.1 million on revenue of just $1.2 million last year.

While most associate solar panels with the stiff ones that sit on residential rooftops, Ascent offers a different product. Its flexible, thin-film photovoltaic solar panels can be used in applications where traditional panels wouldn’t work.

The company said its 2022 revenue was actually double that of the previous year, largely due to a joint venture with TubeSolar, a German developer and manufacturer of photovoltaic thin-film tubes used primarily in the agricultural production sector.

Earlier this year, Ascent announced it intended to acquire some assets of an unspecified European firm, and license its intellectual property, for $5 million. Max also said the company is converting its Thornton facility “to the industrial-scale development of the next generation of solar material – a class of elements known as ‘perovskites.’

He told BusinessDen the change takes the facility “from an aging production line to an innovation center.”

Ascent was founded in 2005, and its stock price peaked in the late 2000s. The company, which is listed on the Nasdaq, completed a 5000-to-1 reverse stock split in early 2022 in an effort to boost its stock price, but the share price has fallen steadily since.

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