Soitec’s CPV foray could soon be over

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Concentrator PV (CVP) producer Soitec has said it is to immediately refocus its operations on its core semiconductor materials and equipment business, putting in doubt its long-term commitment to its CPV business.

Soitec raised concerns about its commitment to its CPV business when releasing FYQ3 2014-15 results, which included the Solar Energy division reporting €3.4 million in revenue and €38.6 million over the last nine-month period.

Recently, Soitec announced that its planned 150MW CPV power plant for San Diego Gas & Electric in the US would effectively be cancelled as the utility had encountered a “major roadblock” in developing the project.

This forced Soitec to announce job losses at its San Diego module assembly plant and the downscaling of operations. The major setback came after the deployment of Soitec's CPV modules in a 150MW project with Tenaska Solar Ventures was scrapped in favour of conventional c-Si modules. 

Soitec noted in its financial statement: “Soitec has initiated efforts to realise value of solar energy business combining significant restructuring measures going forward and will assess most appropriate scenario to extract value from its solar related assets in compliance with its obligations towards all solar stakeholders.
“As a consequence of the recast of the anticipated Solar Energy sales Soitec has triggered a first batch of cost cutting actions freezing or cancelling many operating charges and reducing headcount by  around 100 people in the United States. Further cost cutting measures will be implemented in accordance with firm anticipated short term demand as well as appropriate restructuring measures.”

The loss of several large-scale utility projects meant that the company had a PV project pipeline totalling around only 70MW through 2016 fiscal year and only five very small projects planned in FY2015. 

Soitec also reiterated that it expected an ongoing operating loss for the entire company in its second half of its financial year but would include significant financial impairment charges to reflect its CPV operational restructuring and final outcome of its changed business strategy focus. 

The CPV solar sector has been decimated in recent years as conventional c-Si technologies drastically lowered production costs and increased production scale, dominating the ground mount utility-scale market even in high irradiance regions, CPV’s main market for competiveness.

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