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Another European Solar Wafer Manufacturing Location (Jena) closes under Chinese Price War – 290 Germans loses Green Jobs

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The number of solar factories closing in Europe has increased tremendously in the 2nd half of 2012 despite a record surge in Germany which would have raised 2011 solar growth to 25%. However the relentless price pressure from Chinese solar panel companies has decimated the solar companies in the West. While there have been a number of famous cases of bankruptcy like Solyndra and Solon, there have been bigger solar factory closedowns. REC has closed down more than 1 GW of wafer capacity while a pure play Spanish solar wafer factory also closed down recently . British solar wafer maker PV Crystalox is also near the verge of failure. Solar Wafer prices have fallen by almost 60% in the last 1 year with the prices much below the cost of production in Europe. It seems unlikely that any solar wafer maker will remain alive in Europe by 2013.

Schott Solar 

The German Glass Maker is a big component supplier to the CSP industry but does not provide a turnkey solution.Schott is also involved in the Solar PV Technology area producing both crystalline silicon panels as well as thin film panels.It recently established a JV with Chinese company Hareon and plans to build 700 MW of solar panel capacity in emerging markets around the world.It has won a contract to supply 20 MW of thin film modules to Indian Solar Company Premier Solar with 10 MW of supply in 2010 and 10 MW in 2011

China based GCL Poly is the biggest solar wafer producer in the world wresting the crown from LDK Solar in 2010.GCL Poly is now set to grow even bigger in 2011 raising its wafer capacity almost 85% making it No.1 by far.GCL Poly has seen a massive rise from 2010 when it started to producer solar wafers.The company’s strategy of setting up plants near its major customers have landed it major deals and lower the cost in the supply chain.

Note earlier also European solar module companies had move to Asia to escape the price pressure from the Chinese pressure. The massive growth of GCL in poly and wafer has killed not only Western solar companies but also some Asian ones as well.Severe wafer price declines that have already impacted SolarWorld and other European manufacturer’s production operations have led to SCHOTT Solar announcing the closure of its mutlicrystalline wafer operations in Jena, Germany impacting 290 workers.

European Solar Factories Move to Asia

Solar Factories in US and Europe have been closing at a rapid clip over the last 2 years as Solar Panel Prices have come crashing down.Earlier the higher cost factories were able to survive due to non-existent Asian players and benign competitions.But with the rise of the Asian Solar Companies,the European and US Companies have faced very tough times.Q-Cells closed most of its German Solar Cell Manufacturing Lines even as it ramps up a factory in Malaysia.While there have been isolated cases of module factories being opening in Germany,Most of the Major Manufacturers like REC and Q-Cells are moving lock,stock and barrel to Asia.REC is already stepping up production at its 1 GW integrated solar plant in Singapore while Q-Cells manufacturing is also migrating to Malaysia.

Top Solar Wafer Companies

1) GCL Poly – This Chinese company has become one the biggest producers of polysilicon and wafers in 2010 from zero in 2008.Is expanding rapidly but not getting into production of solar cells and panels.The company is also on its way to becoming a Top 3 producer of polysilicon and is expanding by co-locating wafer plants near its customer factories.Has singed massive long term deals with most of the biggest solar panel producers in the world.


2) LDK Solar – This is the biggest producer of solar wafers that are used by crystalline solar panels but is losing its No.1 position to GCL Poly.Is expanding rapidly into other parts of the solar supply chain and could break into top 10 solar panel producer in the next couple of years.

3) Renesola – Very similar to LDK Solar in operations and structure,this Chinese company is the lowest cost producer of solar wafer producer in the world.It is expanding into other parts of the supply chain.

4) Renewable Energy Corporation (REC) – This Norwegian Producer was the largest solar wafer producer till a few years ago when it lost its leadership to the Chinese.It is now expanding in Singapore to reduce its high cost and integrating vertically.

5) Solarworld – Solarworld is the Biggest German producer of solar panels,the company is one of the few to still have operations in Europe and USA.The company has been battered by low cost competition .


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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