Solar Module Maker SolarWorld Files for Insolvency

Amidst harsh price wars in the solar module maker space, Germany-based SolarWorld AG said in a statement that the company is bankrupt. The company statement said that “ongoing price erosion” and mounting debts have resulted in a negative prognosis for the company and that the board members will immediately file for insolvency.

It is unclear what will happen to the company’s affiliates, including the US-based operation based in Oregon.

Over the past 5 years, SolarWorld has filed multiple trade complaints and anti-dumping lawsuits against Chinese PV manufacturers, which resulted in tariffs being put on certain panels that were manufactured in regions of Asia. However, the tariffs were not enough to keep the company afloat.

The topic of cutthroat pricing and unsustainable business practices has been explored by industry expert Paula Mints. In February she explained how PV module prices as low as US 0.25 per watt were impacting the industry in a 3@3 on Solar PV.

“SolarWorld is the latest victim of the ongoing unforgiving pricing environment,” said Mints who added that when companies are trying to compete with prices that do not appropriately reflect cost, the market becomes uncompetitive. She is concerned that when manufacturers fail, innovation is also lost and quality takes a back seat to low-cost.

“In the PV industry and in the current pricing environment, too low prices are forcing manufacturers out of business and also forcing them to cut corners,” she said.

Lead image: Screenshot from SolarWorld website. Credit: SolarWorld.

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com

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