PV Crystalox suspends polysilicon operations, announces layoffs and reduces production

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As with many other solar companies, PV Crystalox states that the expected market recovery in the second half of 2011 did not materialize.

As such, declining wafer prices – the company reports that since August, wafer prices on the spot market have decreased by more than 20 percent – combined with overcapacity and high inventories, has driven it to reduce production output at its U.K. ingot facility and German wafer plant, and temporarily suspend production at its 18,000 MT polysilicon facility, also in Germany.

While specific details could not be released, a spokesperson for the company did tell pv magazine that in the U.K., for example, where 140 people are currently employed, between 160 and 190 megawatts (MW) of ingots are expected to be produced in the second half of 2011, in comparison to the previously expected 200 to 250 MW. When running at full capacity, the U.K. plant produces around 600 MW of ingots.

The spokesperson could also not disclose how many jobs will be lost in the U.K., although they did say that it would be under 100 and that the consultation period will last for 30 days, as opposed to 90.

In Germany, due to the fact that the wafer factory mainly employs temporary workers and those with short-term contracts, the full-time jobs there will be more protected. The temporary employees will be gradually phased out, and the short-term contracts will not be renewed, however.

PV Crystalox also has a sales team of eight in Japan, which will not be affected.

As a result of the announcement, the company says it expects full year shipment volumes to be in the range of between 360 and 390 MW, as opposed to the 378 MW shipped the previous year, and the 400 to 450 MW projected in August.

Furthermore, PV Crystalox expects to incur an operating loss for the full year 2011. However, in a statement released, it added, "The Group’s cash position remains positive and the above measures have been instigated to minimise cash outflows, and the Group expects to have a healthy cash balance at the end of the year."

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