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Why Solarworld CEO Frank Asbeck Will Never Receive a Salary Again

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Solarworld CEO Frank Asbeck has announced that he will stop taking his salary of half a million euros till his company returns to profitability again. Note Solarworld was the biggest solar panel manufacturers in the world till recently. However a change in industry paradigm, with a huge supply glut of cheap Chinese solar panels has made Solarworld an also-ran. While other big German peers Q-Cells have gone bankrupt, Solarworld soldiers are still fighting on a losing game.

The company was at the forefront of putting an AD duty on Chinese solar module imports in the US and is trying to replicate that in Europe as well. However the company’s competitiveness has been seriously eroded despite these solar trade wars. The company is currently in a desperate situation to survive with its stock price touching new lows. The maverick CEO has made bold statements in the past as well. The most recent being that his company was valued at more than 4 euros a share despite its stock price touching below Euro 1 recently. My prediction is that Solarworld will go bankrupt or taken over in less than a year given that it still runs high cost factories in Europe and USA when everybody else has shut them down. Though Solarworld solar panels  (Sunmodules brand ) is of good quality the cost differential is too big. It too has major debt problems and profitability remains a big question.

Solarworld  has also lost a massive amount of marketshare in the last few years.

 Solarworld which is the biggest solar panel company from Germany, lost marketshare to the Chinese companies 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.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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