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Severe wafer price declines that have already impacted SolarWorld and other European manufacturers' production operations have led to Schott Solar's announcing the closure of its multicrystalline wafer operations in Jena, Germany, impacting 290 workers. Schott Solar said that its monocrystalline wafer production at Jena, as well as its thin-film module production is to continue.

Industry overcapacity and severe declines in prices, particularly with wafers and cells, driven by Asia-based competitors, were said to have been the dominating factors behind the move to permanently close some of its wafer operations, permanently. Prices of multicrystalline wafers have more than halved in 2011, after declining around 40% in the previous year, as significant new capacity in China, Korea and Taiwan ramped.

“We need to stop pursuing upstream stages of the value creation chain that only generate losses and concentrate on the fast-growing module and project business instead,” commented Dr. Martin Heming, CEO of Schott Solar AG. “With the help of this new strategy, excellent products and the strong Schott Solar brand, we are in an excellent position to be able to operate successfully in the difficult solar market. We are quite optimistic because we managed to sell more modules than ever before last year and increased our market share. We plan to continue along these same lines in 2012.”

Schott Solar said that it would be launching its new Schott Perform Mono high-performance module in the first half of 2012, supporting the current need for mono-wafer production in-house.

The company also noted that it would be working to offer as many affected employees jobs in other sectors of the company. 

As part of the business realignment, the company would also be opening a technology centre for monocrystalline wafers at the site in Jena.