Skip to content

Calls For Germany’s Near-Bankrupt Solar Industry To Be Nationalised

The wave of bankruptcies in the German solar industry has brought down another heavyweight. The cell and module manufacturer Sovello filed for insolvency at the district court in Dessau on Monday. Now, there are calls for state ownership of the ailing solar industry in Eastern Germany.

The aim is a self-administered bankruptcy. Sovello has about 1,200 employees. Sovello, like Q-Cells, is based in the so-called “Solar Valley”, a centre of the German solar industry in the triangle of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. Q-Cells, with 1,300 employees at its headquarters, filed for bankruptcy on 2 April. Solon in Berlin is also broke. The U.S. manufacturer First Solar plans to abandon its plant in Frankfurt (Oder).

Solarhersteller Sovello pleite

The industry is being rocked by intense competition from Asia and declining government support. In the past week, the first reports started to surface that Sovello was also broke. In addition, there was talk of planned reduction in working time. A spokesman for the company was not available for comment on Monday.

Sovello was founded as a joint venture between Q-Cells and the U.S. manufacturer Evergreen Solar in 2005. One after another three production lines were established. Two years ago the company was taken over by a private equity investor and the former limited liability partnership was converted into a limited liability corporation.

Meanwhile, the calls for government help for the industry are getting louder. Last week, German states had already stopped temporarily plans by the federal government to reduce solar feed-in tariffs. Now, there are demands for direct government intervention. The former IWH chief Ulrich Blum argues for state ownership of the ailing solar industry in Eastern Germany. “The state could own the companies partially. This would be easy because it is already a major creditor of the companies due to funding and loans”, Blum said in an interview. Blum was President of the Institute for Economic Research Halle (IWH) and is now a professor at the University of Halle.

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 14 May 2012