Jabil closes 700 MW solar module factory in Poland

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U.S.-based Jabil Circuit is closing its solar PV module production in Kwidzyn, north-western Poland. The company, which was one of the largest OEM manufacturers of solar modules in Europe with its 700 MW Polish factory, will now withdraw from the solar manufacturing business in Europe, the company said in a statement to pv magazine.

It was a “tough decision,” a spokeswoman said. “Unfortunately, the company has determined that there is not enough current and future demand to secure a sustainable future for solar business in Kwidzyn,” she said. The production equipment from the factory in Kwidzyn will be probably resold, the spokeswoman said pointing out this solution as a “preferred option.”

About 500 employees are affected by Jabil’s decision. They will continue to work in production for other clients, the spokeswoman said. Overall, Jabil is growing in Kwidzyn and has a stable customer portfolio outside the solar industry.

Milan Nitzschke, president of EU Prosun, described the decision of Jabil as “extremely regrettable”, claiming that the PV industry lives on product diversity and needs competition for technological development. “Therefore, the loss of Europe’s second largest solar module producer is a major blow to the EU, whose stated goal is to preserve technology and value in Europe,” he said.

With the withdrawal of Jabil from Europe, the discussion on production costs could also be rekindled. The U.S. contract manufacturer with double-digit billion sales was one of the most competitive manufacturers in the world with its OEM production in Poland.

However, the exit of Jabil from Europe does not mean the end of its contract manufacturing for the solar industry. Jabil remains committed to the solar industry and at the forefront of new PV technologies that deliver to customers worldwide, the spokeswoman said.

“Meanwhile Chinese dominance in the renewable energy sector is growing. However, cost advantages are clearly not the basis for this development,” said Nitzschke, commenting Jabil’s decision. “EU solar manufacturers in general have been able to reduce production costs by 80% since 2010. EU R&D excellence and highly automated production have enabled that tremendous cost decrease,” he went on to say.

Nitzschke also stressed how European solar manufacturers are currently running more sustainable productions, because of the European environmental and social standards. “A solar module manufactured in China gives rise, on average, to a carbon footprint 2.5 times larger than a European module, and usually has a markedly shorter lifespan,” he said.