Bosch to abandon solar energy business

Mar 22, 2013

(AP)—German engineering company Bosch said Friday that it is abandoning its solar energy business, because there is no way to make it economically viable amid overcapacity and huge price pressure in the industry.

The solar power industry has been hit by falling subsidies, weaker sales and increasingly stiff price competition, especially by Chinese manufacturers. Robert Bosch GmbH's move came after German industrial conglomerate Siemens announced last October that it would give up its loss-making solar business.

Bosch said that it will stop making products such as solar cells, wafers and modules at the beginning of next year. It will sell a plant in Venissieux, France, and is abandoning a plan to build a new plant in Malaysia.

The solar energy division, which employs about 3,000 people, lost around 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) last year. The company said that, despite efforts to reduce manufacturing costs, it was unable to offset a drop in prices of as much as 40 percent.

"We have considered the latest technological advances, cost-reduction potential and strategic alignment, and there have also been talks with potential partners," Bosch CEO Volkmar Denner said. "However, none of these possibilities resulted in a solution for the solar energy division that would be economically viable over the long term."

The company said that "as far as possible, individual units are to be sold quickly."

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AWaB
2.3 / 5 (6) Mar 22, 2013
This is exactly what happens when governments try and push a technology that is not ready for large scale manufacturing. Fundamental research is still underway and is needed to be much further along prior to the advent of mass production of efficient and cheap solar panels. Will it be ready next week? Not likely. Will it be ready for that in 10 years? Probably. It's a shame most politicians are lawyers (at least in the U.S.) and not businessmen, engineers, or scientists. Any of those three actually understand how this works!
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (6) Mar 22, 2013
AWAB:

It's more about location.

Germany is in a fairly crappy location for solar power due to latitude and weather issues.

Malaysia was also a shitty location for solar due to weather.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (5) Mar 22, 2013
The decision is a very economic one. Making solar cells has become dirt cheap. And it's also not that much of a high tech product in terms of the facilities you need anymore.

So the number of players on that market is very high - consequently profits are very low to non-existent.

Germany is in a fairly crappy location for solar power due to latitude and weather issues.

We do have a fairly strong market for solar cells in germany (germany has the most solar installed of any country - and the most GWh produced per year by solar). But Chinese imports are cheap. So businesses that look for high profits are looking to other technologies.
AWaB
1 / 5 (3) Mar 22, 2013
Location or otherwise doesn't change the fact that you can't produce large amounts of cheap energy from solar at this time. The kWh is still extremely high when compared to other traditional sources of energy. 'Cheap' Chinese panels are still extrememly inefficient and not cost effective, thus the reason why we're not closing natural gas plants and building solar farms!
Caliban
5 / 5 (2) Mar 22, 2013
This is exactly what happens when governments try and push a technology that is not ready for large scale manufacturing. Fundamental research is still underway and is needed to be much further along prior to the advent of mass production of efficient and cheap solar panels. Will it be ready next week? Not likely. Will it be ready for that in 10 years? Probably....


But you will note that this hasn't prevented the Chines government from heavily subsidizing production. The retreat from the market by Bosch, Siemens, et al, is a very clear indication of the success of this strategy by the chinese, and pretty soon they will have largely monopolized the market, barring a major breakthrough in easily-implemented material/production efficiency advances.

In other words, your argument is flawed to the point of irrelevance.

antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (5) Mar 23, 2013
'Cheap' Chinese panels are still extrememly inefficient and not cost effective

If you take all subsidies for solar AND for fossil fuels AND for nuclear away ('level playing field') then solar is actually very competitive (on a par with fossil fuels - and that isn't counting money that needs to be spent mitigating their ecological damage - and WAY cheaper than nuclear.)

Nuclear is currently still being subsidized with more cent per kWh than solar in germany (4ct/kWh despite the fact that we're on the verge of shutting all the nuclear reactors down shortly...and we'll continue subsidizing it for centuries to come without getting any energy back - taking care of the ruins/waste disposal sites).
Coal is still being subsidized at 1.3-3.3ct (lignite/bituminous coal) and alternative energies on average at 3.4ct/kWh

"Expensive alternative energy" is one of those myths that won't die because people without the energy to look it up keep regurgitating it.
djr
5 / 5 (3) Mar 23, 2013
"The kWh is still extremely high when compared to other traditional sources of energy."

factually incorrect! In many parts of the world - solar is now the cheapest option - and the price is still falling sharply. A simple google search will show you why the solar industry is booming. Just one article to show how wrong you are - http://cleantechn...seholds/

A quick quote from the article that cuts to the quick.

"This makes the full cost of electricity produced about 15 cents a kilowatt-hour, which is still close to half what Australians pay for grid electricity."

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