Solar Power

Debt May Sink Major Chinese Solar Panel Manufacturer

And could take whole industry with it

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Is Suntech too big a Chinese brand to fail?

On March 15, the cash-strapped solar company—until recently the world's biggest photovoltaic panel maker—faces a $541 million payment on convertible notes, a quarter of the $2 billion in debt it has incurred.

Whether Suntech can strike a deal with its bondholders or secure a government bailout will set the stage for the collapse or consolidation of the Chinese solar industry. Other photovoltaic giants, including Trina Solar and JA Solar, also face crushing debt and overcapacity—a result of a rapid expansion of manufacturing that sent solar panel prices plummeting and allowed China to dominate the global market.