SolarWorld shuts production lines down

02. September 2011 | Industry & Suppliers | By:  Becky Stuart / Jonathan Gifford

SolarWorld is to close photovoltaic module manufacturing plants down in the U.S. and Germany. The company said the move will strengthen its competitiveness.

SolarWorld Hilsboro manufacturing site

SolarWorld will concentrate its US manufacturing activities on its Hilsboro site. Image: SolarWorld.

SolarWorld stated that over the past months it has "massively" expanded and modernized its production capacities. As such, it is shutting down the "older" parts.

Production is to close at its Camarillo facility in California, and the activities are to be combined with those at its Hillsboro, Ore site.

In a statement released, the company explained, "As a result of this merger at a fully integrated location, SolarWorld AG will tap synergy potentials and cut production costs. The sales and distribution unit at Camarillo will be retained and further strengthened."

Meanwhile, in the company’s Freiburg/Saxony location, older parts of the production will be taken out of service.

SolarWorld said the action will result in a reduction of loan workers. It did not, however, provide any further details.

Chairman and CEO, Frank Asbeck commented, "With this, we will continue to keep our wage cost share at below 10 percent. Especially in contrast to manufacturers who increasing relocate to low wage countries or come from there, this is of strategic importance.

"It means that we offer quality from Germany and quality made in the U.S. that is competitive with the Far East."

Despite the tight market, not all reactions to recent manufacturing shifts have been negative. Abound Solar’s Julian Hawkins has been quoted by Bloomberg as saying that these measures and the recent culling of higher cost producers as, "Darwinism at work in business."

The recent bankruptcies of higher cost producers such as Solyndra Inc. late last month did not shock the industry however but it may bring political consequences for the U.S. Department of Energy that had given it large loan guarantees.

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