MUNICH, Germany Wacker Chemie AG (Munich) backs out of the joint venture with Schott Solar AG. The move highlights the competitive dynamics in the solar industry.
Wacker, the world's second largest manufacturer of polysilicon materials for semiconductors and photovoltaic applications, says it have sold its shares in Wacker Schott Solar GmbH (WSS) to its former partner Schott Solar AG. Wacker said it will continue to focus on polysilicon production while Schott will devote itself to all downstream steps in the value chain.
The joint venture has been launched only two years ago when the industry was budding hopes on this market. Against the background of the financial crisis, the company however never made it out of the red figures. Tellingly, Wacker does not cash in on the sale of its shares. Quite the contrary, Wacker had to support the once co-owned company with about 50 million (about $72 million).
The move reflects the increasing competition in the photovoltaics business in general and in the wafer production in particular. In the context of the withdrawal, Wacker talked of increasing price pressure in this market. As a consequence, WSS never achieved the expected margins. "The financial crisis worked as a catalyzer for the wafer production relocation from Europe to Asia," a spokesperson said.
Also in the European PV equipment industry which despite its fragmentation is a dominant factor globally the signs indicate stormy weather. German industry association VDMA recently reported a 79 percent decline in orders for PV manufacturing equipment in a year-over-year comparison. Other sources see production surpassing the demand and predict that Asian manufacturers will soon claim the market leadership.
Wacker's plans to expand its production in the USA are not affected by the increasingly competitive market situation, a company spokesperson highlighted.
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