Astronergy’s German facility reportedly facing hard times

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According to a report by German broadcaster rbb, the production line of module manufacturer Astronergy in Frankfurt (Oder) is threatened with closure.

In September, the PV manufacturer – part of China’s Chint Group – applied for permission to implement reduced working hours to employees after the expiry of the minimum import prices applied by the EU to Chinese-made solar modules. Official permission for short reduced working hours was withdrwan at the beginning of the year for the 235 employees at the east German site, rbb reported.

The reason given was that the resulting wages were partly below subsistence level and although they had already been increased, the situation was no longer acceptable for employees, according to German trade union IG Metall.

Broadcaster rbb also reported Astronergy now has orders sufficient for only two weeks’ production, and that the future of the factory is unclear, with a meeting between the works council and management planned on Friday.

EU decision backfired on employees

Many employees fear the module manufacturing facility could be closed. Astronergy took over the factory from insolvent solar manufacturer Conergy in 2013 with Chint Group keen on German production to avoid European import restrictions.

The European Commission’s decision to eliminate minimum import prices for Chinese modules in September 2018, however, left Chint with nothing more than a “made in Germany” seal on its modules. It is unclear how much value the corporation places in that.

Astronergy has not responded to pv magazine’s request for more details on the matter.

At the end of September, Director of Production at Astronergy, Paul Ji, said he was confident the market would stabilize and that production could be ramped up again.