NorSun announces temporary layoffs and production halt

The measures will last until the the turn of the year. Credit: NorSun

Norwegian solar ingot manufacturer NorSun has announced its decision to temporarily stop production and lay off employees due to the influx of “exceptionally low price” Chinese solar modules.

In a statement, NorSun said import restrictions in the US had caused re-routing of Chinese modules to Europe, leading to a large inventory build-up in Europe as there is more than one year’s uninstalled capacity in stock.

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“We can only register that the price drop and the build-up of modules in stock are creating major challenges for European players in solar energy. The market is flooded with low-cost modules that no one in Europe can compete with,” said NorSun managing director Erik Løkke-Øwre.

He added that this situation had created challenges along the entire value chain, including NorSun’s partners and largest customers, forcing the company to temporarily lay off employees on 7 September without saying the number of affected employees.

In addition to the layoffs, the company also temporarily stopped production at its Årdal plant until the turn of the year.

“This situation underlines the importance that the government should follow up the EU Innovation Fund’s grant with Norwegian support. Norway has a unique opportunity, with NorSun as the only ingot and wafer producer in the Western world, to take a leading role in the development of the solar value chain in Europe,” said Løkke-Øwre.

Meanwhile, NorSun will concentrate on its short and long-term expansion plans, including upgrading the Årdal plant. Canadian solar manufacturer Silfab Solar and NorSun signed an agreement last week to expand ingot and wafer production facilities in the US.

Previously, PV Tech reported that multiple European cell and module manufacturers, start-ups and solar PV component suppliers had published an open letter via the European Solar Manufacturing Council (ESMC), urging the EU to take action to safeguard the European PV manufacturing industry threatened by “unsustainably low-priced PV modules” from Chinese module manufacturers.

Furthermore, SolarPower Europe, trade body representing the solar industry in Europe, also wrote an open letter to EU leadership, warning of the “deeply precarious” impacts of collapsing costs in the global solar sector. The group expressed concern about the dramatic fall in the price of solar manufacturing and production, which has fallen by 25% in recent months.

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