IN DEPTH: US solar success story

Workers at the California Valley Solar Ranch

Workers at the California Valley Solar Ranch

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney stood outside Solyndra's empty factory on the outskirts of California’s Silicon Valley in May 2012.

His makeshift podium was arranged artfully so that photographers would be sure to capture the knee-high weeds and other signs of creeping dereliction behind him.

Almost exactly two years earlier, President Barack Obama had made an ill-advised visit to the same factory — then an ostensible hive of activity — “to tout this building and this business as a symbol of the success of his [clean-energy] stimulus”, Romney said.

“Well,” the Republican added, struggling to contain the smugness in his voice, “you can see that it’s a symbol of something very different today.”

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