Global Solar Job Massacre
We on greenworldinestor, have been closely following the solar industry downturn which seems that it will never end. While solar job cuts are not new to the industry after low cost manufacturing in China, made solar panel production in Europe almost impossible, the sheer scale of cuts continue to surprise. After the Black Solar Tuesday in which top western solar panel manufacturers like Sunpower, Solar Frontier cut thousands of jobs, now the biggest solar capital equipment companies like GTAT and Meyer Burger have also announced sizable solar job firings. Note these equipment makers had a great run in 2010 and 2011 as huge amounts of solar equipment was ordered by new and existing companies. Their order books swelled and the companies expanded rapidly to meet the unmet and growing demand particularly from China.
However the industry downturn has caught up with even the best now as GTAT the biggest US solar equipment maker and Meyer Burger the biggest European company look to drastically reduce. Solar revenues have been cut down by over 50% as the solar panel customers have no money to spend on equipment. Even solar paste makers like Ferro are cutting jobs as sales dwindle. They are being forced to downsize in order to shape themselves for the new industry reality. Meyer Burger is also looking to diversify away from solar energy into the rapidly growing sapphire market. Note GTAT already has a big presence in the sapphire ingot equipment market. Centrotherm which was one of the biggest equipment makers announced a surprise bankruptcy after its bankers removed their credit lines.
Solar Capital Equipment Consolidation starting with Applied Materials thin film closure has not finished
Centrotherm, which was the second largest seller of solar equipment with revenues of more than $800 million went bankrupt. The company’s bank are refusing to renew credit lines or give it shipment finance. Centrotherm which was the second largest seller of solar equipment with revenues of more than $800 million is under court protection. The whole solar industry is in turmoil with bankruptcies rampant, so it is logical for banks to stay away. Oerlikon which for the last few years was trying to make a success of selling amorphous silicon thin film equipment too sold its division. Note Applied Materials had long ago given up its thin film equipment manufacturing. Oerlikon was persisting despite losses but it too has raised its hand given the abysmal level of solar panel pricing.
Meyer Burger goes from Acquisition Mode to Survival Mode
Meyer Burger became the 2nd largest player in the solar equipment market after buying Roth & Rau for $500 million. Now with the current industry conditions, the market cap of Meyer Burger is in danger of going below $500 million. Meyer Burger is contemplating cutting more jobs in addition to the 15% it has already cut. The company is going into the survival mode as its CEO talks about how they have enough cash to get till 2014.
Read on GWI List of Solar Companies By Country.
The company has more work to do on “fat-trimming” after acquiring competitor Roth & Rau AG (R8R) in 2011, on top of a 15 percent headcount reduction announced in March, Chief Executive Officer Peter Pauli said in an interview. Meyer Burger can withstand a “worst-case scenario” of sales at the current level or lower sales growth in the next 12 months, he said. “We can go up to 2014 with the cash available now,” he said in Thun, Switzerland, yesterday. “We could go further by making strategic decisions about our research and development resources. That’s what we have to decide right now.”
Responding to projections that the solar panel module overcapacity will continue for at least another year, solar equipment maker GT Advanced Technologies today announced a restructuring plan. The company will lay off approximately 25 percent of its workforce and consolidate its existing business units into a single Crystal Growth Systems (CGS) group. He said that his company is “not immune to these headwinds” and that these actions will help it “prepare for what is likely to be a challenging 2013.”