Bosch delays work on Malaysian PV factory

07. February 2012 | Applications & Installations, Markets & Trends, Industry & Suppliers | By:  Sandra Enkhardt

According to media reports, Bosch has delayed its plans to build a photovoltaic manufacturing facility in Penang, Malaysia, due to the turbulent solar market conditions.

Bosch solar photovoltaic module

In recent years, Bosch has strengthened its photovoltaic activities.

According to a press conference held last June, work on the facility was supposed to have begun before the end of last year, with completion scheduled for 2013. At the time, it was said everything from silicon crystals to roof mounted solar modules would be produced. Specifically, full production capacity - 640 megawatts - was to be achieved in 2014 and 2,000 new employees were to be hired. However, Bosch’s Siegfried Dais told today's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that construction work will be postponed.

"If you invest too early, you run the risk of settling for a less advantageous technology path," he was quoted as saying. He added that a decision will be made on the construction of the new facility before the end of the year.

A spokesperson for Bosch additionally told pv magazine today that the company will definitely go ahead with the facility at the end of 2012. However, it needs to do more testing first, in order to ensure new developments in its technology can be properly integrated.

In recent years, the Bosch Group has heavily invested in photovoltaics, in order to make itself less dependent on the auto industry. Over the past three years, the company has invested around €2 billion in its acquisitions (both complete and partial) of Ersol, aleo solar and Johanna Solar, and in the development of its photovoltaic center in Thüringen, Germany. Most recently, Bosch announced its takeover of Conergy’s inverter subsidiary, voltwerk electronics GmbH.

As with many photovoltaic industry payers, Bosch has been negatively affected by both overcapacity and falling module prices. According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the Stuttgart-based company had to write off over €400 million in 2009, and around €0.5 billion in 2011.

Despite this, Dais stressed that the company was adhering to its photovoltaics commitments. He adds that he believes there will be around 20 large photovoltaics manufacturers in five years, after a period of consolidation. "I cannot predict where we will be in the rankings, but we definitely want to be among those which attain profits," he said.

However, he had to admit that Bosch Solar missed its own photovoltaics earnings target of around €1 billion in 2011. In the past fiscal year, the division earned around €800 million, which represented a decrease from 2010. Due to prices having fallen by around 40 percent, Dais was satisfied with overall performance though.

In the future, he said that Bosch wants to focus more on the production of thin film modules, since the technology offers more potential for efficiency gains and cost reduction.

Translated and edited by Becky Stuart.


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