SolarWorld draws plan to boost competitiveness, incl 400 layoffs

Inside a SolarWorld manufacturing plant. Author: Oregon Department of Transportation. License: Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic

Feb 13 (Renewables Now) - German company SolarWorld (ETR:SWV) on Friday presented a new plan to “successfully compete in a fast changing market environment” and reach 2 GW of annual shipments.

As part of the plan, 400 jobs will have to go over the next two years, roughly in equal parts in production and overhead.

The company will concentrate fully on the production and sale of high-efficiency photovoltaics (PV) based on monocrystalline silicon technology and PERC (passivated emitter rear cell). It will shut down in the current year production of multicrystalline wafers, cells and modules, which have lower efficiency because of the technology's limitations.

"We will compete successfully by focusing exclusively on innovative solar technology with the highest quality, longevity and efficiency," commented CEO Frank Asbeck.

In late 2016 SolarWorld had to let go about 500 temporary employees because of the increasing price pressure.

Other measures to be taken now, as part of the company’s new strategy, include the bundling of steps of the value chain at individual sites. As a result, SolarWorld will combine crystal growing and cell making in Arnstadt, Thuringia, and wafering and module manufacturing in Freiberg, Saxony. This move is to bring economies of scale more quickly, reduce redundancies, simplify processes and open room for future growth, the firm said.

The company’s smaller factories in Arnstadt (PV modules) and Freiberg (PV cells) will be relocated. SolarWorld Innovations GmbH, the company’s R&D unit, will concentrate its efforts on efficiency-enhancing processes that can be combined with PERC.

SolarWorld plans to invest a mid-double-digit million sum in the continuous expansion and the improvement of its high efficiency technologies, it added.

"These measures will decrease costs and increase efficiency significantly. Our aim is to come out of the difficult phase for the solar market stronger than before and to raise module shipments to about 2 gigawatts by 2019," said Asbeck. Shipments in 2016 reached 1,375 MW, up from 1,159 MW a year earlier.

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Browse all articles from Tsvetomira Tsanova

Tsvet has been following the development of the global renewable energy industry for seven years now. She's got a soft spot for emerging markets.

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