Bosch said today that it would end its solar business operations, including the making of ingots, wafers, cells, and modules at the beginning of 2014. More than 3,000 employees are affected. The German conglomerate, which is the biggest auto parts supplier in the word, said that individual business units would be sold, if possible. All product development and marketing activities will also be ended. Bosch plans to sell its 90% ownership of Aleo Solar, as well as a plant in France. Bosch Solar CISTech in Brandenburg will continue as a development center for thin-film technology.
Over the past years, Bosch Solar Energy has tried unsuccessfully to become profitable. The company attributes the failure to global overcapacity, with virtually the entire industry sustaining heavy losses. During 2012, losses at the Solar Energy division were €1 billion.
“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%,” said Stefan Hartung, chairman of Bosch Solar Energy.
During the past two years price for solar energy panels have dropped by more than two-thirds due a glut of Chinese manufacturing capacity. In addition, an industry consolidation that began with the collapse of U.S. taxpayer subsidized Solyndra two years ago is now well under way.