Production costs a key challenge for German PV companies

Of the 63 participants – comprised of top level executives – that attended the PV Market Executive Briefing, held May 11 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 22 percent believed that the biggest issue their company had to contend with in 2010 was minimizing production expenditure.

Held at a time where German PV companies are facing uncertainty over the proposals to reduce feed-in tariffs by a further 16 percent, the question was also posed as to what extent they thought production would move to Asia. In terms of cell production, 24 percent said they “totally agreed” that production would shift, in comparison to the five percent who “didn’t agree at all”.

The outlook was not quite so stark for the rest of the manufacturers – module, silicon, ingots and wafer, and PV manufacturing equipment – with just 17 percent, 16 percent, 18 percent and eight percent of participants respectively believing that production would go to Asia.

In terms of developing strategies to help German companies maintain a competitive advantage in the global marketplace, brand leadership was underlined as being the most important: 40 percent felt this was the most effective approach to take. Differentiation and price leadership, however, were also thought to be essential factors in helping to secure Germany’s market position.

During a presentation at the briefing, SEMI commented: “To remain competitive, each individual company must foster innovation." Monier added that “producers need to use their engineering skills and creativity to capture markets outside of Germany”.

The PV Market Executive Briefing, organized by Solarpraxis and EuPD Research, was designed to address the changes in the German promotion scheme. The questions posed included whether Germany can keep its leading position in the global PV marketplace and how individual companies can stay profitable.