Investor search for Solarworld failed, module factory to be auctioned-off

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Law firm Niering Stock Tömp, the insolvency administrator of Solarworld Industries GmbH, has given up the search for a new investor for the company’s module production in Freiberg, Saxony, eastern Germany. “There is no recognizable perspective to find another investor,” said Christop Niering of Niering Stock Tömp to pv magazine. With his statement, Niering confirmed what had been reported by news agency dpa-AFX over the weekend.

According to Niering, more than two dozen potential buyers from all over the world have visited SolarWorld’s production and research facilities in Germany, but all have failed to find an agreement, as none of them saw any economic perspective for module manufacturing, or could not get the funding they needed.

Solarworld filed for bankruptcy for  the first time in May 2017 and a second time in March 2018. In addition, following China’s announcement that it would reduce its domestic solar PV expansion and cut solar subsidies, module prices worldwide were falling rapidly. At the same time, at the beginning of September, the European Commission canceled the minimum import prices for crystalline solar cells and modules from China. Niering sees the dramatic price erosion of recent months as a major reason why ultimately no investor could be found.

The equipment for module production is still largely in place at the Freiberg factory, while other, mobile inventory was already auctioned at the end of last year. “We deliberately waited a long time with the auction, in order not to exclude the possibility of a new start,” said the insolvency administrator to the news agency.

But now, by March at the latest, everything should come under the hammer. In addition to the complete “inner equipment” of the factories, Niering is also looking for buyers for the buildings and land. This also affects the former Solarworld site at Arnstadt in Thuringia.

Niering said it was also disappointed by the German federal government. It refused to provide any support despite repeated requests. The transfer of technology into a research factory modeled on microelectronics was not wanted politically. “Never before have I had to close such a modern and future-oriented company,” said Niering.

Niering still employs around 35 people at Solarworld’s two sites in Freiberg and Arnstadt. At the time of the second bankruptcy last March, Solarworld had about 600 employees.

Just last week, Sunpower began producing its novel P-Series modules at SolarWorld’s former U.S. plant in Oregon. The production capacity is around 220 MW. About four months ago, the U.S. photovoltaic manufacturer completed the acquisition of the production facility in Hillsboro.

* the article was updated on February 11 to add a statement from SolarWorld’s insolvency administrator, Christoph Niering.