Consolidation of Taiwanese PV industry continues with another shutdown

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E-Ton Solar Tech, a subsidiary of Taiwan-based computer supplier Inventec, has announced that it will close its solar cell production facilities in Taiwan, according to a filing with the Taipei Exchange (TPEx). In the document, the company said that current solar cell prices are still far below its production costs, even though prices have somewhat stabilized in recent months.

It also cited the safeguard duties introduced by the U.S. government and the elimination of minimum import prices for Chinese PV products in the European Union as two factors that have contributed to losses in its solar cell business.

“Trading in the shares of E-Ton Solar Tech Co., Ltd. will be halted starting from April 22, 2019, pending the release of material information. The company will apply for resumption of trading after the release of material information,” the exchange said yesterday.

Meanwhile, local web portal Digitimes has revealed that the company is now planning to sell two of its three idled facilities in southern Taiwan. It also claimed that the possibility of resuming the company’s solar cell business will be decided by its parent.

In the 2018 financial year, E-Ton Solar recorded revenue of TWD 1,788 million ($57.9 million). This compares to TWD 4,178 million a year earlier and TWD 3,920 million in 2016. In the first three months of 2019, meanwhile, it achieved an aggregate turnover of only TWD 0,120 million.

In its latest financial results, published in November, Inventec said it was still operating in the solar sector through E-Ton Solar and Inventec Solar Energy, a subsidiary that specializes in the production of polycrystalline cells and modules. The group’s third PV unit, Inventec Energy — which focuses on manufacturing and the provision of PV system integration services — was still in the process of being liquidated, as first announced in 2017.

The group also said that Gloria Solar International Holding, a unit of E-Ton Solar specializing in the production of PV modules, was liquidated in August, as decided by the company’s shareholders in late March. But in the first three quarters of 2018, revenue from the solar energy business represented only a minimal part of the group’s total turnover.

In February, Inventec denied it had laid off more than 100 employees in Taoyuan, according to Focus Taiwan. “The Taoyuan labor authorities said the application made by 125 Inventec Solar Energy employees for mediation resulted from a change in the company’s pay structure, but after mediation the employer agreed to return to the original pay structure,” the article revealed.

With the exception of solar module manufacturer United Renewable Energy Company (UREC) — which was created through the merger of NSP, Gintech and Solartech — all other Taiwanese solar manufacturers are currently facing difficult times, including cell maker Motech Industries and wafer manufacturer Sino-American Silicon Products.