It’s tough being a solar manufacturer and Schott Solar are the latest casualty, announcing their exit from the manufacturing of solar PV manufacturing effective immediately.
Schott Solar are a wholly owned subsiduary of Solar AG, which has been around since 1884 when founders Otto Schott, Ernst Abbe and Carl and Roderich Zeiss originally founded a specialist glass manufacturing company, including the famous Carl Zeiss name.
Schott Solar trace their lineage in solar back to 1958 when they started tinkering with solar energy for sattelites. Over the ensuing years through a variety of mergers, acquisitions, partnerships and R&D, they grew to become a long standing player in world of PV with offices and manufacturing facilities in multiple locations.
Notably, their thin-film manufacturing facility at Jena (Germany) and their CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) units will not be affected by this decision.
Citing the cause as “the severe deterioration in market conditions over the last several months” Schott Solar AG has announced on June 28th that it was withdrawing from the crystalline photovoltaics production in the course of the year. The move will affect roughly 870 employees worldwide and inlucdes impact on Australian employed staff.
Schott said that: “The photovoltaics business is still suffering from severe deterioration in prices, a development that is being driven mainly by Asian competitors. SCHOTT Solar responded by working extremely hard to lower its manufacturing costs by 50 percent over the last two years and restructuring upstream levels of the value creation chain.
“Furthermore, the employees of the Solar division managed to convert excellent R&D results into promising serial products in only a short period of time. They also succeeded in increasing global sales volumes from quarter to quarter.Nevertheless, unstable political environments in Europe have put the industry under immense additional pressure. Its management had carefully evaluated the various options on continuing the crystalline photovoltaics production. None of these proved to be economically viable due to the current market environment, however.”
It is a great pity to see so many companies who have invested years energy and money in the development of PV products going under again and again. As many PV industry pundits have noted “it ain’t grid parity if it ain’t sustainable business”. Clearly, profitability needs to rise in our industry if we are to avoid the loss of an ever growing number of companies.
I’m advised that more details about after sales and warranty support for Australian customers will follow and of course, the parent company remains intact and intent on protecting its brand and has already established an after sales support team for PV customers.