Singulus announces job cuts in solar sector

The lack of a solar market recovery this year has meant Germany-based Singulus must adjust its business operations, despite the favorable development of its activities in the semiconductor industry.

Specifically, due to a lack of demand for its silicon-based solar cells, the company has said 40% of the workforce at its Singulus Stangl Solar GmbH subsidiary will be let go by the end of the year. A spokesperson told pv magazine that from 120, just 70 people will be left.

They added that to date, Singulus Stangl Solar had manufactured everything in-house. However, in a bid to become more flexible, and create a leaner business model, the subsidiary will now only carry out final manufacturing operations, and source necessary equipment from other companies. This will allow the company to scale-up or back as appropriate. The strategy reflects that employed at Singulus’ Kahl am Main manufacturing site, also in Germany.

As a result of the changes, Singulus expects to incur charges of €43.3 million for the current quarter. Overall, Singulus expects to reap sales of around €83.5 million for the first nine months of 2012, down from €121.8 million in 2011, and a loss of €10.9 million (2011: €6.3 million).

New direction

On the back of increased demand in the CIS/CIGS sector, Singulus will expand its thin film photovoltaic business operations. The spokesperson said that following three major and two smaller orders in the last couple of years, including from Avancis and Hyundai, it is confident of ongoing business in this sector.

Specifically, they said there are certain customers which are either planning to expand existing production lines, or open new ones in new geographical locations, like Avancis in Saudi Arabia, next year; and that there are plans for investment in full production lines afoot.

"Larger investment projects have already been announced for 2013. If they are realized according to plan, Singulus will surely succeed in delivering a significant number of machines," said Singulus in a statement released. It added, "The upgrade business in the area of crystalline solar cells to the PERC standard promises new demand for relevant production equipment in 2013."

The new company direction will be funded via proceeds acquired from a €60 million corporate bond issued this March.

In addition to developing new directions and products, Singulus is also mulling over the possibility of acquiring new companies. The spokesperson said that two to three companies are currently under review for acquisition. While they could not divulge too many details, they hinted that they are German.