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Solarworld re-emerges after Qatari intervention

A Qatari-German joint venture has taken over Solarworld, once Germany’s biggest solar power company, prior to a devastating collapse caused by low-cost Chinese rivals.

The group agred to sell its key assets for about €100m to the JV set up by Frank Asbeck, the founder of Solarworld and Qatar Solar Technologies.

The new company, Solarworld Industries, was formally unveiled in Berlin on Thursday and it plans to keep alive the production of solar photovoltaic panels in Germany.
Asbeck said the new company would focus more than before on high-end products such as dual-face solar panels, which capture the sunlight also on the back of the panel. This allows them to produce up to 30 per cent more electricity.

The new company will also reduce its cost base, working with 500 employees, drastically reduced from the 1700 once on the Solarworld payroll.

Despite the labour cut the management aim to reach the same annual production capacity as Solarworld ࢀ” equivalent to 1GW ࢀ” within the next 18 months.

At its high point, in late 2007, Solarworld was worth more than €4bn and briefly flirted with entry into the Dax, Germany’s blue-chip stock market index, before Chinese participation ended its dominance.

Under pressure from Solarworld and other European manufacturers, the European Commission imposed anti-dumping duties on Chinese solar-panel makers in 2013, which were prolonged earlier this year. The duties, however, failed to halt a slide in prices that was driven by massive overcapacity in China.

Mr Asbeck said the EU measures were never “efficiently enforced”.

Qatar Solar Technologies, which has been a shareholder in Solarworld since 2013, said it hoped the revival of the company would help further its own ambitions to build a domestic solar industry that covers all parts of the supply chain.