CIGS world-record holder, TSMC exits solar industry


The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC) has said it will no longer work in the solar industry, despite having recently revealed a 16.5% CIGS world record module. As of the end of this month, the company’s solar business will be wound down at its manufacturing fab, located in Central Taiwan Science Park, Taichung.

"TSMC Solar’s late entry to the market and lack of economies of scale led to a substantial cost disadvantage. After careful consideration, TSMC has come to the conclusion that despite its world-class conversion efficiency for CIGS technology, TSMC Solar will not be viable even with the most aggressive cost reduction plan," said the company in a statement released today.

"TSMC continues to believe that solar power is an important source of green energy and that solar module manufacturing remains a robust and growing industry, but despite six years of hard work we have not found a way to make a sustainable profit," added Steve Tso, chairman of TSMC Solar and senior VP of TSMC. "Upon ceasing manufacturing operations at TSMC Solar, our most important concern will be the continued employment of our workers there," he continued.

TSMC has said all product warranties offered to existing customers will be honored, and that its employees in the solar division will receive employment offers. Meanwhile, any remaining solar module inventory will be installed at its buildings and facilities.

In an interview on the back of TSMC’s 16.5% record-breaking news, TSMC Solar’s worldwide sales & marketing VP Marc Spaulding and VP for R&D Wen-Chin Lee spoke to pv magazine about future plans.

They said that the next planned capacity expansion, from the current 100 MW, would take place in 2016. "That continues to be our planned timing, with the scale to be determined by our efficiency and productivity progress and market conditions," they said at the time, adding, "Even though we have greatly improved our module efficiency over the last two years, we still see lots of potential to be captured."

TSMC entered the solar market in 2009. In 2012, the company told pv magazine it aimed to ramp capacity to 1 GW by early 2016.

In its Q2 2015 financial results, TSMC posted a net income of US$2.5 billion., a gross profit of $3.2 billion and net revenues of $6.66 billion – all increases from the previous year. Separate financial information on TSMC Solar could not be found.