Production at a 100MW module plant in Germany belonging to thin-film manufacturer Avancis has been called to a temporary halt, following successful negotiations with the relevant works council.
A company spokesperson explained to PV Tech that around 200 employees at the Avancis Fab 2 plant in Torgau, Saxony have been given 'short time' work instead of their usual production line duties since 1 September.
In German employment law, 'Short time' is a temporary agreement between workers and their employers. As such, it requires approval from the representative works council, a process which itself can take several months. In this case, the original announcement was made by Avancis via press release in April that Fab 2 would be temporarily halting production in June, although negotiations were not successfully completed until the end of August and consequently came into effect at the beginning of this month. It has been agreed that 'short time' period will last a maximum of 12 months.
It is thought that the reason for operations being put on temporary hold is low module prices due to overcapacity and cheap imports from abroad, mainly China. The company is apparently hoping that settlement of the EU-China trade dispute and the minimum pricing strategy for Chinese modules will limit imports of modules from China, making it possible to restart production in future.
The company, a subsidiary of Saint-Gobain, converted a 20MW module production plant also at the Torgau facility in April of this year into a research and development facility. The 100MW Fab 2 facility was producing CIS solar modules until the halt came into effect.
Avancis was launched in 2006 as a 50-50 venture by Shell and Saint Gobain, specialising in thin-film modules. The plant in Torgau was opened in 2008 and Saint Gobain assumed full ownership of the company in 2009. According to the Avancis website, the company is currently constructing a plant in Ochang, South Korea, to be opened during 2013.