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Bosch to exit solar business

According to reports, German engineering company Bosch said it was exiting the solar energy business, as there was no way to make it economically viable in the scenario of overcapacity and huge price pressure in the industry.

Cuts in subsidies have come as a huge blow for solar energy companies, amid weaker sales and increasingly stiff price competition, especially from Chinese manufacturers. The company announced the move at the end of last week, after German industrial conglomerate Siemens announced last October that it would pull the plug on its loss-making solar business.

According to Bosch, it would stop making products such as solar cells, wafers and modules at the beginning of next year and would sell a plant in Venissieux, France. A plan to build a new plant in Malaysia would be abandoned.

The solar energy division, employing 3,000 people, was in the red with losses to the tune of €1-billion ($1.25 billion) last year.

According to the company, despite efforts to cut manufacturing costs, it failed to offset a drop in prices of as much as 40 per cent.

The company, though, has promised to meet its commitments and timelines.

The company started photovoltaic business in 2011 as a turnkey solutions provider, with solar panels procured by Bosch in Germany and the design, engineering and procurement of the overall systems done at Bosch in India.

Confirming the move, Steffen Berns, managing director, Bosch Limited, and president of Bosch Group in India, confirmed that the decision to discontinue cell and module manufacturing by Bosch Germany from 2014 would not hamper the company’s ongoing projects in India. He said the Solar India team would focus on completion of the Indian projects.

Bosch in India would continue to explore business opportunities in other areas of renewable energy and energy efficiency that Bosch was active in, eg, solar thermal energy, heat-pumps, wind power, solar inverters as well as of course efficiency technologies in automotive applications.

The company’s manufacture of ingots, wafers, cells, and modules would end by the beginning of 2014. To the extent possible, individual units would be sold quickly. All development and marketing activities are likewise to be ended.

Bosch Solar CISTech GmbH in Brandenburg, Germany, would be discontinued, as a development centre for thin-film technology, with its future to be decided at a later date.

In the past few years, Bosch Solar Energy has tried unsuccessfully to achieve a competitive position, with the losses coming to some €1 billion last year despite extensive measures to reduce the manufacturing cost.

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