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SOL Grotto: The Solyndra art exhibit

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By Doug Powers  •  August 20, 2012 03:01 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

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The highest price ever paid for a piece of art was previously $120 million, but taxpayers have shattered that record by shelling out about $500 million for what ended up as an exhibit known as SOL Grotto. The intrepid Zombie sets the stage:

One of the great mysteries of the 2011 Solyndra bankruptcy was: What happened to all that money? After the United States government “loaned” Solyndra $535 million, the money quickly vanished; the bankruptcy court later found that the company had essentially no cash on hand. They had spent it all on equipment and inventory.

Surely, then, the inventory could be sold and liquidated, to recover some of the ill-spent cash — right? Well, not really. Auctions of the material at the shuttered Solyndra factory produced very little revenue, as the highly specialized machinery and proprietary photovoltaic components spurred little interest among the auction vultures, since the parts could be used only for one specific purpose: to make Solyndra’s unique tubular solar panels.

The fate of Solyndra’s millions of unused glass tubes is still unknown (many of them were likely destroyed — we’ll get to that part of the story in a moment), but luckily a pair of Bay Area artists somehow managed to get their hands on some of the surviving Solyndra tubes and put them to good use…not to produce electricity, but as art.

SOL Grotto is part of an exhibition called Natural Discourse and is located at the University of California at Berkeley Botanical Garden. Don’t let anybody from Joe Biden’s office near it because there’s no telling what might happen.

Here’s the sign outside the exhibit:

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The exhibit’s location is almost perfect in a symbolic sense… just a short walk from Steven Chu’s former office:

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Zombie has many photos, video and a lot of the back story here.

When does the Abound exhibit open?

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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