SolarWorld Americas to continue operations

When SolarWorld AG, the largest European maker of crystalline silicon PV modules, announced on Friday that it was filing for “insolvency” (the European word for bankruptcy), the question on everyone’s lips in the United States was: “What will happen to its U.S. subsidiary, SolarWorld Americas?”

Well, from the subsidiary’s Portland, Oregon, headquarters, the message is clear: We. Are. Fine.

The company’s statement was brief, blunt and powerful. In its entirety, it read:

SolarWorld Americas Inc., based in Hillsboro, Ore., is operating as usual and maintaining full operations as it produces and sells its market-leading solar technology.

Parent company SolarWorld AG and its German subsidiaries are undertaking insolvency proceedings in Germany. However, SolarWorld Americas, the largest U.S. crystalline-silicon solar manufacturer for more than 42 years, is continuing to implement efficiencies and working with external partners to position the company for stabilization and a continued competitive position in the marketplace.

“We deeply appreciate the ongoing support of our loyal customers in the Americas at this tumultuous time for the solar industry,” said Juergen Stein, U.S. president of SolarWorld.  “Together, we are striving to maintain our leadership role in the U.S. solar manufacturing industry for years to come.”

Most well known outside of its industry for its precedent-setting trade action against Chinese module manufacturers, inside the industry the company’s module products are part of a market that has been buffeted in recent months by several high-profile bankruptcies, including fellow panel manufacturer Suniva. For now, however, SolarWorld Americas will power on.

(In a similar fashion to SolarWorld in 2011, Suniva has filed a trade complaint alleging price manipulation by Chinese manufacturers, though it’s important to make clear that SolarWorld does not support Suniva’s action.)

As recently as 2015, SolarWorld Americas employed more than 1,000 people at its Hillsboro, Oregon, plant. Its German parent company has long considered the United States its largest and most active market.

And SolarWorld AG’s German production facilities are humming along, despite insolvencies across its German subsidiaries. The company filed for insolvency on May 10, after its board declared there was no more positive prognosis for the company as a going concern.

If there are disruptions at SolarWorld’s factories in Germany, this could affect its U.S. production. When pv magazine staff visited SolarWorld facilities last summer, the company was sending its polysilicon to Germany to be sliced into wafers, and then re-importing the wafers to make into modules. It is not known if this workflow has changed, but SolarWorld does not have U.S. wafering facilities.

 

Correction: This article was corrected at 8:27 AM EST on May 15. The previous article indicated that subsidiaries in Saxony and Thuringia had not files for bankruptcy. These subsidiaries are insolvent. We regret the error.