Bosch introduces further solar scale backs

07. November 2012 | Industry & Suppliers, Markets & Trends | By:  Jacob Paulsen

Bosch has announced shorter working hours for around 3,500 of its solar employees. A complete phase out of photovoltaics is no longer excluded, despite the fact the company distanced itself from solar exit rumors last month.

Bosch Erfurt

Bosch will close its thin film operations in Erfurt down by the end of the year.

While rumors were rampant that Bosch would withdraw from the solar industry, it refused to either deny or confirm them in October.

Now it has been reported in German media, including the Stuttgarter Zeitung and RSP, that Bosch has introduced shorter working hours at several of its production locations. Meanwhile, production in Arnstadt, where 700 workers are employed, will be cut by 20% by the end of December. Shorter working hours have been in place there since October.

The workers council requested that the site not be closed in a letter to the management. In the area of thin film, however, the decision has already been made, with Bosch Solar Energy AG announcing in August the closure of its 30 MW thin film plant in Erfurt.

At the time, a spokesperson said that the company would only focus on crystalline photovoltaics in the future, and that it would continue to produce and sell its modules worldwide.

Bosch subsidiary, aleo solar AG has also introduced shorter working hours for its 700 employees, after having announced on October 8 that it would not extend its temporary worker contracts in a bid to reduce inventory. At the time, it was said that production was expected to again be ramped up in early 2013.

"The order situation is significantly weaker than we imagined it," aleo recently reported. In 2011, the company recorded losses of around 31% before tax, and the company’s sales target for 2012 has been reduced to €280 million, from €440 million.

Additionally this year, aleo announced the termination of its avim solar production Co. Ltd joint venture in China and the closure of its photovoltaic module factory in Santa Maria de Palautordera, Spain.

To support its subsidiary, Bosch provided aleo with loans totaling around €60 million, which must be repaid by the end of this year.

Currently, Bosch Solar is said to be checking for opportunities to countermeasure the poor results. While a cooperation with Asian partners is said to be under discussion, a complete exit from the solar industry is still on the table, said the company. A decision is expected to be made by the end of 2012.

Translated by Becky Beetz.


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