Blue Square Energy Blues

The company is for sale.
Photovoltaic Signs of the Times?

BSElogo Solar start-up Blue Square Energy (BSE) had a layoff before the holidays to close 2008, a year marked by internal struggles at the company captured in Blue Square Energy: Solar plans stalled at funding round. BSE has sold assets and equipment from an out of service solar cell line as a second cash preservation step. Discussions are reported to be underway with interested buyers.

It would appear Blue Square Energy: Joseph Babin named new CEO and President may have happened too late to raise a $25 million funding round for the company. Or per Blue Square Energy: Interview with solar CEO Joseph Babin, was the lack of Barnett regime change on the BSE Board of Directors the root cause of the funding travails? Even though “Cleantech Venture Investment in ‘08 Breaks Record, Despite Weak Finish” by Katie Fehrenbacher at Earth2Tech resulted in record level solar venture investment.

For reference, here is a Blue Square Energy international patent application published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO):


I am trying to reconcile the facts about the situation as they trickle in from multiple sources. Please see the label Blue Square Energy for prior Blog posts about the company.

Other photovoltaic (PV) start-ups and small caps have been impacted by the credit crunch and soft photovoltaic module market of recent months.


Solar-cell maker halts construction plans for new plant in Hillsboro”, by Richard Read for The Oregonian said:

SpectraWatt Inc., an Intel spinoff that planned to make solar cells in Hillsboro, may leave Oregon because it can’t find financing to build a plant.

This answers questions raised by Tom Cheyney at in his the Chip Shots blog post, “Intel turns on a solar system, but it’s just the start, and what’s going on with SpectraWatt anyway?

CSG Solar AG

Per “Solarfirma CSG Solar stellt Produktion ein” at, CSG Solar halted production and laid off 124 of their 164 employees on December 23, 2008, due to declining PV module demand.

Day4 Energy Inc. (TSE:DFE)

In response to the market situation, Day4 Energy accelerated a change in their business model with “Day4® Energy Completes Outsource Agreement with Jabil” before Christmas culminating with “Day4® Energy Announces Reduction in Workforce” on January 6, 2009 (Ed. Note: Wrong year error corrected per comment). Module production will be relocated to a Jabil facility in Poland closer to principal market demand in Europe denominated in Euros. Day4 Energy President George Rubin said:

We expect to have the equipment installed at the Jabil facility in Q1 and to be operating at full capacity as we enter the second half of 2009.

Layoffs are always tough decisions, but the timing around the end of year Holiday Season is a no win scenario. Is it better to let employees know before the holiday or after?


  1. Once Bitten says:

    And so Allen Barnett leaves more frustrated investors in his wake and more hardworking, conscientious people without employment. I’m guessing that Allen is the only one to profit from this endeavor. Moreover, it appears that his son, Jeff, used this opportunity to apprentice under his father. He can now carry on the family legacy. How nice. Beware the Barnetts, beware.

  2. Heather B. says:

    Hi there,

    Just to clarify, the Day4 Energy news release about the reduction in workforce was issed on January 6, 2009 (not 2008).

    Thank you!

  3. Powerease says:

    Fascinating how the good Dr. Barnett is employed by the Unniversity of Delaware as it’s solar guru; uses the Unniversity position to obtain solar funding from the government and then somehow comingles into Blue Square finances while placing his inept son in charge.

    While “running” Astropower, Barnett misused research funds for everyday operations, a violiation of fed policy which the company was found quilty of after a fed audit.

    Yet no one at U of D said a word back then as they say nothing today.

    When you hear the name Allen or Jeffrey Barnett, duct tape your pockets, hide your wallets and run.

  4. EgoCheck says:

    I don’t have much desire to defend Allen or Jeff Barnett. However, for the last year or two there has been a lot of speculation by Gunther and commenters that the Barnett(s) were solely responsible for the success or downfall of Blue Square Energy and AstroPower. The fact is, that 90% of high-tech startups fail. I doubt it’s much different in the solar industry. It’s often not the fault of just the CEO. Don’t forget, there are board members, other senior management, and even some engineers who all play a part in making decisions at a start-up.

    It’s interesting to see so many anti-Barnett posts based on what happened at AstroPower ~15 years ago. It really just comes off as bitter ex-employees. While some readers might find it hard to believe, there were employees who didn’t blame Allen Barnett for what happened at AstroPower.

    More importantly, there are people who don’t really blame Allen or Jeff Barnett for the current difficulties at Blue Square. The speculation about how much money Allen made from this business, or how government money was spent, is purely speculation. I highly doubt that either of these posters really have a clue what they are talking about. Anyone who did, wouldn’t be making accusations like that.

    I’d love to say more about Blue Square and AstroPower, but this blog seems to like idle speculation based on hazy facts and statements, so I’ll leave you all to it.

  5. Once Bitten says:

    Jeff! Is that you? The now famous “Barnett Blame Everyone Else While You Grab the Money and Run” technique stains your message just like greasy fingerprints. Allen used the technique beautifully to avoid blame when AstroPower failed. Remember who was at fault? It was the Accountants. Those meddling accountants.

    It is touching that you are using the same technique as Blue Square fails. Although, not with the same aplomb as your father. Let’s look at your list of who’s to blame:
    * The Board (might want to rethink that one, as you and Allen sat on the Board, it sorta’ kinda’ implicates you too)
    * Senior Management (another one you might want to rethink, remember that you directed Senior Management, again sorta’ kinda’ implicates you too)
    * Engineers, ah there you go. The engineers, like the accountants who came before them, are to blame. It is a vast engineer and accountant conspiracy.

    Too bad you do not understand that the CEO is responsible. It comes with the position.

    Daddy must be so proud of your newly honed skill in obfuscation. As demonstrated in this quote: “It’s interesting to see so many anti-Barnett posts based on what happened at AstroPower ~15 years ago.”

    15 Years ago! The facts although interesting, are irrelevant. Here is a more accurate timeline of what happened at AstroPower.

  6. Powerease says:

    The track record of history regarding Astropower and Blue Square Energy speaks for itself. The companies have two things in common, they are both failures and both heavily involved with the Barnetts. Both the good Doctor and the young boy king of star crossed fame.

    This track record includes documented violiations of federal law regarding use of grants and the failure to follow SEC reporting requirements which led to the delisting of the company.

    The track record also shows no sane investor was willing to put investment into Blue Square as long as a Barnett is involved in any capacity.

    The facts remain the facts and the discerning of us know the hard realities.

    For those of you who wonder why so many negative posts on the Barnetts regardless of what solar company they are involved in; its because they give the industry a bad name and a make investors wary of investing in alternatives.

    The beauty of Sarbanes Oxley is that works and exposes the cretins like the Barnetts for what they are in the clear light of day.

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