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Bosch pulls plug on solar business

German car parts supplier Bosch said Friday it plans to discontinue its solar panel manufacturing business because overcapacity in the industry has caused prices to nosedive. Up to 3,000 workers are affected.

Bosch pulls plug on solar business
Photo: DPA

“Bosch is to discontinue its activities in crystalline photovoltaics,” the company announced in a statement.

“Bosch’s manufacture of ingots, wafers, cells, and modules will be ceased at beginning of 2014,” the statement said.

As far as possible, individual units would be sold quickly and all development and marketing activities were likewise to be ended.

“The module plant in Venissieux, France, is to be sold. Plans to construct a manufacturing facility in Malaysia will be ended,” it said.

Furthemore, Bosch would sell its shares in the Aleo Solar unit.

“Over the past years, Bosch Solar Energy has tried unsuccessfully to achieve a competitive position. Due to global overcapacity, which has since become huge, nearly the entire industry is sustaining heavy losses,” the group noted.

“Despite extensive measures to reduce manufacturing cost over the past year, we were unable to offset the drop in prices, which was as much as 40 percent,” said Bosch board member and supervisory board head of Bosch Solar Energy, Stefan Hartung.

In January, Bosch said the losses of the Solar Energy division amounted to some €1 billion ($1.3 billion) last year.

AFP/mry

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ENERGY

Why electric fan heaters in Germany could make the energy crisis worse

Hundreds of thousands of households in Germany have been stocking up on fan heaters to prepare for winter in the face of rising gas prices. But experts say over usage will worsen the situation.

Why electric fan heaters in Germany could make the energy crisis worse

Why are people buying fan heaters?

The cost of heating a home in Germany with oil or gas has doubled in the past two years, according to a heating index published on Tuesday by the non-profit consulting company Co2online.

Due to the rising costs, people are looking for alternatives to heat their homes. And in the first half of this year alone, 600,000 electricity-powered fan heaters were snapped up in Germany, according to market research firm GfK.

But this way of heating could end up being more expensive for consumers – and lead to higher gas consumption than with gas heating, an analysis by strategy consultancy Oliver Wyman shows.

READ ALSO: German households see record hikes in heating costs 

What happens when there’s overuse of electric heaters?

If fan heaters were to be used by people in large numbers, utilities would have to generate much of the additional electricity in gas-fired power plants, according to the firm. The fan heaters would then exacerbate rather than alleviate the energy supply shortages. At worst, there would even be a threat of local power outages due to grid overload.

READ ALSO: Should I invest in an electric fan heater in Germany this winter?

The main problem is that fan heaters provide heat less efficiently than standard gas heaters, said Jörg Stäglich, head of the European Energy & Natural Resources Practice and global head of utilities at Oliver Wyman.

“Their use is therefore more expensive for households than conventional heating.”

To generate the same heat, he said a fan heater requires twice as much gas via a detour to produce electricity in gas-fired power plants as boilers that burn it directly.

“There’s a vicious circle looming,” Stäglich said. “If we have to use more gas for electricity generation, the amount of gas available in Germany will become even scarcer and the price of gas will rise.”

In a scenario where 30 to 50 percent of the 20 million German households with gas heating relied on fan heaters to keep their homes warm in winter or at least compensate for a lowered room temperature, the demand for electricity would increase by up to 25 percent at peak times, experts calculate.

Experts say that even with rocketing gas prices, the use of electric heaters isn’t justified. 

Although the price of electricity has not risen as dramatically as gas, it has still climbed significantly this year.

“That’s why electric heating is not recommended at all,” said Norbert Endres, energy consultant at the Bavarian consumer centre. 

Stäglich added that using fan heaters was “not economical, climate friendly or sensible”. 

Vocabulary 

Fan heater – (der) Heizlüfter

Gas consumption – (der) Gasverbrauch

Power cut – (der) Stromausfall

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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