SolarWorld AG Files For Insolvency Proceedings

Joseph Bebon
Written by Joseph Bebon
on May 10, 2017 3 Comments
Categories : Featured, New & Noteworthy

Despite recent efforts to streamline its business and remain competitive amid global market challenges, Germany-based PV panel maker SolarWorld AG is “immediately” filing for insolvency proceedings in local court.

In a brief announcement, the company says, “The management board of SolarWorld AG, after having conducted a diligent review, came to the conclusion today that due to the ongoing price erosion and the development of the business, the company no longer has a positive going concern prognosis [and] is therefore over-indebted and thus obliged to file for insolvency proceedings.”

As for the fate of the German company’s subsidiaries, including SolarWorld Americas, the parent company says in its announcement, “It is currently under evaluation if a respective obligation to file for insolvency proceedings is also given with regard to affiliated companies of SolarWorld AG.”

A spokesperson for SolarWorld Americas, which operates a large panel manufacturing facility in Hillsboro, Ore., has declined to comment beyond what the parent company released.

SolarWorld AG has been struggling amid global market challenges, namely module overcapacity. In February, the German company announced it was stopping production of its multicrystalline products, shifting its manufacturing focus to monocrystalline high-efficiency technology, and reducing its workforce.

The company has long argued that Chinese solar manufacturers have been dumping cheap solar modules into the global market, and SolarWorld’s trade complaints were the leading force behind the anti-dumping trade duties placed on Chinese solar imports in the European Union and the U.S.

In a statement, SolarWorld AG CEO Frank Asbeck claims that although the company has “led the fight against illegal price dumping,” the anti-dumping measures “are being undermined by Chinese companies either by relocating production to Asian neighbors or by circumventing them.”

Asbeck continues, “The prices for solar cells and modules have crashed massively since the middle of last year. Instead of an expected market slowdown, prospects have now also deteriorated for the coming months. In view of this development, the strategic measures adopted at the beginning of the year are not sufficient to maintain the positive prognosis confirmed in March.”

“This is a bitter step for SolarWorld, the management board and the workforce and also for the solar industry in Germany,” he says. “The next few weeks and months will now decide on the future of Europe’s largest and most modern production in the key industry of photovoltaics. We will do everything we can to maintain as many jobs and production as possible.”

Notably, U.S.-based PV manufacturer Suniva also recently blamed Asian solar companies for its financial troubles before entering Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Suniva then filed a petition in April with the U.S. International Trade Commission seeking new import tariffs on solar cells and minimum import prices on modules made not just in Asia, but anywhere outside the U.S. The Solar Energy Industries Association publicly opposes the proposal.

Update – Monday, May 15: SolarWorld Americas has issued a statement about its current operations.

Photo of a factory worker courtesy of SolarWorld AG

Comments

  1. I am seriously frustrated with this news as I have quality Siemens (pre-Solar World) modules from the early 1990s that are still producing close to their rated 55-watt output. My choice to buy my current 250-watt Solar World modules was based on that performance guarantee and the fact that they were made here in the USA. it was worth it to spend a little more for the quality guarantee than cheap poor quality controlled imports. simply moving production to Canada and calling them Canadian Solar did not make them American and I’m annoyed that loop hole wasn’t plugged right up front.
    I’m also annoyed with the companies who pushed the cheaper product to make their money and they probably won’t stick around to service them when they start failing early either. Please apologize to your Oregon neighbors. Thank you to all you companies who stuck with SolarWorld America modules.
    I sincerely hope SolarWorld makes it through this period and is able to continue to keep their employees bringing paychecks home to their American families.

  2. Solarworld and Suniva have long been products in the industry that have led the charge towards higher efficiency products. The major issue we’re seeing as an installer is the wattage of the larger modules can’t compete with products from companies like LG, Panasonic and Sunpower. More and more we’re seeing our clients choosing lower end products from companies like Kyocera (recently left the U.S. market) and REC, or the higher efficiency modules from Panasonic or LG. By creating a mid-wattage module (290) at a much higher price than we’re seeing from companies like REC, Kyocera or even Q-Cells, there isn’t much demand for SolarWorld anymore as their per-watt pricing is much higher without delivering the production that the industry pricing demands. While they just recently upped their product warranty to 20 years, they are still lagging behind Panasonic and SunPower without giving enough relief on price to compete. While it’s terrible to see Suniva as a true American made company and product falter, we are hoping that SolarWorld Americas is able to stay in business and learn from both their parent companies, and Suniva’s mistakes.

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