Solarworld which is the biggest solar panel company from Germany lost marketshare to the Chinese companiees in 2011 . The company which has been at the forefront of leading anti-dumping charges against import of Chinese made solar modules into the USA, lost substantial amounts of money. Solarworld had earlier closed its panel making facility in California. The company sold lesser number of solar panels in 2011 compared to 2010 despite the global solar market increasing by 30-40% . With only around 800 MW of shipments , Solarworld has only 3-4% of the global marketshare compared to 10% for bigger Chinese rivals.
Note while Solarworld is fighting to keep alive, many other western solar producers have gone bankrupt while some of the others are on their way to do so .The prospects for most solar producers ex-China are looking worse and worse. Even the big pocketed Korean Solar Panel makers are also looking to reduce/exit the industry. Hyundai has put 2 solar plants in hibernation while Samsung has too reduced its solar ambitions.
Note governments are trying to save their domestic solar companies but it is not working out too well as of now .Saving bankrupt solar companies has become the national pastime of most governments it seems. Competition in the solar market has become so severe that solar companies are failing left and right. This has made the government come out to save them with bailouts which only make the oversupply situation in the solar panel industry worse. While China is the worst culprit supporting hundreds of failing solar companies through cheap loans which will be never paid back, other governments are not far behind.
Sunpower has been saved by Total which is somewhat of an exception as it a a Big private Oil Company.S olon the German solar module company which failed last month was earlier given a bailout by the German government last year. France has not learned the lesson of investing good money behind a lost cause.It is preparing to help Photowatt a subsidiary of the failing Canadian Company ATS. The solar module company is just not able to compete with super cheap Chinese solar panels.T he French government will help the company alongwith a private partner for which bidding has started.17 companies are bidding majority of which are Chinese solar companies.
The Chinese Dominance of the Solar Industry in the last 2 years have seen numerous Western companies go bust . This has accelerated sharply in 2011 with companies like Evergreen Solar,Spectrawatt, Solar Millenium, Solon, Photowatt etc. either gone for good or in various stages of bankruptcy. Other US Solar Panel Manufacturers like First Solar, Sunpower have fired thousands and some are continuing with large losses. European Solar Companies are the worst off given their high cost structure and lack of differentiation. Solland Solar recently killed its solar module line while some like Schott have killed their solar wafer lines.
Now a new wave of bankruptcies are on the way with Q-Cells likely facing a credit event as it needs to roll over convertibles which come due in February. Note Q-Cells has fallen a long way from being the biggest solar cell company in 2008. Miasole and Nanosolar were Private Equity backed CIGs darlings that were supposed to become the biggest thing following Firsst Solar . Now Nanosolar faceds executive exits while Miasole has fired large number of its workforce failing to find a big parent to support it. Note the smaller companies like Ascent Solar have found backers in Asia . Solar Technologies are seeing Darwin Survival of the Fittest with crystalline silicon solar panel technology beating out thin film solar and solar thermal technologies
Total losses for 2011 were reported at €233 million, due partially to declining prices on the back of industry-wide module overcapacity and dumping, as well as cancellation of wafer supply contracts, according to the company.
SolarWorld reported sales of €1,066 million in 2011, down from €1,322 million in 2010. Shipments of wafers and modules reached 795MW in 2011, down from 819MW in the previous year.