Aleo Solar up and running in Germany

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While Aleo Solar had long sought a new investor, it was able to finalize its acquisition by the Hamburg-based SCP Solar GmbH in May. Some two weeks later, the PV manufacturers restarted production at its plant in Prenzlau.

"The startup took about four weeks and we now have an annual production capacity of 120 MW," says Günter Schulze, CEO of the new Aleo Solar GmbH, in an interview with pv magazine.

Schulze adds that the plant is not yet running at full capacity. Aleo Solar sells about half of the solar modules it produces in Germany and the rest to European countries such as Greece, France and the Benelux. In addition, the first module deliveries have shipped to Japan, where Aleo Solar hopes to sell more in the future. The company is also eyeing other future markets, such as Indonesia and Australia, according to Schulze. Aleo Solar currently employs some 190 employees in Prenzlau, including around 110 in production and the rest in development, distribution and management.

Aleo Solar’s investors had assessed the prospects for Germany’s PV market at the time of the acquisition more positively than it has actually developed. Since then, the number of new PV installations in the country has declined significantly. Nevertheless, Schulze says Aleo Solar is well positioned. The newly developed high-performance module that is already being produced on the assembly line on a trial basis is a very interesting product for the German market, he adds. Schulze hopes to see increasing demand for the new product in the PV systems segment under 10 kW. It is priced only slightly higher than standard monocrystalline modules and offers more power and good low light response, Schulze adds. In addition, he points out, quality German-made products are quite in demand in Germany’s small systems market.

Aleo Solar has the evolution of its high-performance module firmly in view, specifically the further improvement of performance and reduction of costs. To this end, the company is collaborating closely with its new investor, Taiwan-based Sunrise Global Energy. The companies are working on joint projects and research staff in close contact, says Schulze. Aleo Solar had worked with Sunrise Global Energy even before the acquisition and the company continues to deliver the solar cells for Aleo Solar’s modules.

What does the future hold?

The acquisition agreement with Bosch contains clear rules for the new investors. Accordingly, the next three years are largely secured financially and production in Prenzlau will continue in any case during the period. "By that time we will have walked through the valley of tears and will be standing on our own two feet," says Schulze. He is confident that the company will succeed. The firm plans to ramp up production further in the future. The plant in Prenzlau can be expanded to a nominal production capacity of 300 MW. Schulze has Taiwanese exec William Chen at his side for Aleo Solar’s restart. Chen, who held a managerial position at Sunrise Global Energy, currently oversees Aleo Solar’s sales division.

The original plan for Aleo Solar’s acquisition included three Asian investors. In addition to Sunrise Global Solar Energy from Taiwan, its former parent company, Pan Asia Solar from Hong Kong, and Choshu Industry of Japan also planned to acquire Aleo Solar’s brand name and assets via the SCP subsidiary. Despite having signed the purchase agreement, the two other companies withdrew from the agreement in the end for various reasons, leaving Sunrise Global Energy to acquire Aleo Solar on its own, completing the takeover in August. Although they were not involved in the direct acquisition, Choshu Industry and Pan Asia Solar stood by their commitments. Sunrise Global Energy, in turn, was completely taken over by Sino-American Silicon Products (SAS) in August and will continue to operate as a separate subsidiary. As a result of the acquisition, SAS has become a fully integrated manufacturer of silicon through to modules, which in turn can also benefit Aleo Solar, which could see further reductions in its production costs.

Translated and edited by Edgar Meza