Germany-based SolarWorld is probably best known for starting the huge global solar trade war centered around Chinese solar subsidies. However, the company is also a very large player in the solar module and solar cell manufacturing realm (hence the trade war). In an effort to grow its influence and market share, SolarWorld has now taken majority ownership of Bosch Solar Energy.
With this acquisition, Solar World is getting about 800 Bosch Solar Energy employees and enough extra manufacturing capacity (700 MW) to boost its solar cell production capacity to over 1 gigawatt (GW). It also gets 200 MW of solar module production capacity.
“The newly formed SolarWorld Industries-Thüringen GmbH, a 100% subsidiary of Bonn-based SolarWorld, will take over the majority of Bosch Solar Energy’s manufacturing plants and other assets,”pv magazine reports.
The deal will provide SolarWorld with production capacities of more than 1 GW along each of the wafer, cell and module stages of the solar value chain. SolarWorld said it plans to continue to supply Bosch Solar Energy’s existing cell and module customers.
The company added that the high-performance mono-crystalline cells production plant will complement its technological portfolio. SolarWorld said it would now pool research and development activities aimed at improving high efficiency solar cells “to create further competitive advantages for the group and enable further cost reductions.”
SolarWorld’s acquisition is limited to the Arnstadt facility and does not include Bosch’s other solar assets, such as Aleo Solar in Prenzlau.
It’s unclear what SolarWorld is providing in return for Bosch Solar Energy, but speculation is that it’s not cash. Rather, solar analysts presume that it is a commitment to keep the Arnstadt facility running and its personnel employed for a specified period of time. Bosch Solar Energy has been sustaining major losses for a while
Notably, SolarWorld also took over Shell Solar 7 years ago. Whether or not SolarWorld will be able to survive the competition coming from low-cost manufacturers in China and other parts of Asia is yet to be seen. Many took its initiation of solar trade cases as a death cry. However, with a little luck, maybe it will come out of the global solar shakeout alive.
While solar power growth has been on a quick rise, the cost of solar power technologies has fallen so low that solar companies unable to compete have been dying left and right. This is actually a rather natural part of the maturation of an industry. Check out this solar shakeout article for more information on all of that.