PV Crystalox to close UK manufacturing operations

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The company had previously planned to phase out the production of multicrystalline ingots using its DSS furnaces during 2017. Image: PV Crystalox

UK-headquartered multicrystalline solar wafer producer PV Crystalox Solar has confirmed plans to completely close its multicrystalline ingot/brick production facilities in Oxford, UK.

The company had previously planned to phase out the production of multicrystalline ingots using its DSS furnaces during 2017. The plan had been to purchase ingots from third parties and continue processing of ingots into bricks before supplying the bricks to its German-based production plant converting the bricks into wafers. 

However, adverse market conditions have meant that brick processing operations would also be closed with the majority of all jobs lost. The company did not say how many jobs would be lost due to the closure of all manufacturing operations in the UK.

PV Crystalox said it would continue to produce finished multicrystalline wafers at its facility in Germany and source bricks from an undisclosed external supplier. All production operations in the UK would end during the third quarter of 2017.

The company had been struggling for several years to be profitable in the solar wafer sector of the industry after continued overcapacity, primarily in China and the more recent increases in polysilicon prices that compressed margins for all wafer producers, not least the largest in the industry, GCL-Poly. 

PV Crystalox noted that it would continue to service the niche French market from its German wafer facility, due to the existence of French government contracts stipulating low carbon footprint metrics for solar modules used in utility-scale PV power plants. 

PV Crystalox had lost a number of cell and module customers in Europe and Japan as these companies exited the sector, were acquired or went bankrupt, due to competition from larger manufacturers in China. 

The company had produced only around 114MW of wafers in 2016, down from over 200MW in 2015, compared to GCL-Poly in China having a wafer nameplate capacity of 18.5GW and wafer production of approximately 17,327MW in 2016, according to its 2016 annual report.

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