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US solar panel firm leaves gloomy Germany

The Local · 18 Apr 2012, 11:22

Published: 18 Apr 2012 11:22 GMT+02:00

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The news came on Tuesday, just a month after another major player in Germany’s solar industry, Q-Cells, went out of business.

The recent slashing of state subsidies for domestic solar panels installation was the main reason for the closure – it had dramatically reduced demand for the panels, First Solar CEO Mark Widmar said in a statement.

While the decision “was not one we took lightly,” Widmar said in a statement, the production of photovoltaic cells – solar panels - in Germany was no longer beneficial for the company.

More than 1,200 people now have until October to shut the plant down and find other work. A number of staff in the Mainz sales base will also lose their jobs, the company said.

Worldwide, more than 2,000 people – a third of Arizona-based First Solar’s manpower – will lose their jobs over the coming year.

First Solar was one of the largest solar panel producers worldwide and had kept going when other companies collapsed. But in 2010 it reported losses of €30 million and share prices plummeted.

Brandenburg State Premier Matthias Platzeck said he was concerned by the plant closing down and said the government would “do everything possible to support the area.”

Green parliamentary party leader Jürgen Trittin told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper he was disappointed, blaming the government’s decision to stop solar panel subsidies for putting manufacturers out of business in Germany.

The former environment minister singled out Economy Minister Philipp Rösler and Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen for particular blame.

“Thanks to Rösler and Röttgen eastern Germany is on its way to being de-industrialised for the second time.”

Story continues below…

“Their misguided energy politics have driven the German solar industry to bankruptcy and ruined ten years of successful work,” Trittin added.

DPA/The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:15 April 18, 2012 by mos101392
Thanks to the Local, the people losing their jobs know who to blame...read below!

¦quot;Thanks to Rösler and Röttgen eastern Germany is on its way to being de-industrialised for the second time"

Once again, Germany has made setting up a business less attractive than other countries. Not sure if it was German greed that was the driving force? With many former east block and other countries bending over backwards to attract new businesses, there is no wonder people leave or go elsewhere. Hopefully, someone wakes up soon before Mercedes, Volkswagen, BMW, Audi, Krupp and other German companies leave for sweeter, and more attractive countries to set up their businesses and factories.

Not just the subsidies but the taxes make it difficult too.
12:39 April 18, 2012 by pepsionice
For Mos101392

They were already experiencing losses back two years ago. Whatever the FDP suggested....didn't really have much to do with the future. I think most everyone agrees that the peak has been reached and there's not much more to be gained.
12:42 April 18, 2012 by HHayrider

Thats ok, we have the same problem here in the US, with major companies shuttering factories here, and going to India, China and elsewhere. The tax base, wages, and environmental restrictions are cheaper. Even with the cost of shipping, its a better way for the company to widen their bottom line. Pay no matter to the workers, they are just a number on a spreadsheet.
13:22 April 18, 2012 by BuzzAbroad
The German state has been subsidising solar panels for years. The fact that they're "no longer profitable" only confirms they were never profitable! If an industry needs propping up to survive, something's broke.

But the same applies to car makers. Daimler recorded stupendous sales growth and profits last year. Yet only 3 years ago or so we THE TAXPAYERS had to help them fund short time/Kurzarbeit. When do we GET OUT MONEY BACK!?!? Go away. Merkel wrote them a blank check. Now is that corrupt or what?

It's all down to lobbies and politicians sitting on the supervisory boards of the big companies. Some things never change.
18:16 April 18, 2012 by DOZ
It's good to see Countries of the West failing. The time for redistribution of the wealth is long over due. Suck it up and learn what it is like to be a third world economy.
16:25 April 22, 2012 by Englishted

Bringing every body down to third world levels is not really going to help the third world is it?
23:20 April 24, 2012 by Illogicbuster
From the Ministry of Duh. Solar is NOT a viable source of electricity except for low power apps.
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