SolarWorld to lay off 500 temporary manufacturing workers

Credit: SolarWorld

Updated: Integrated PV manufacturer SolarWorld will lay-off around 500 temporary manufacturing workers in the fourth quarter of this year due to significant PV module price declines on the world market.

The lay-offs, which will start on 1 October, include 300 temporary workers at its facility in Freiburg and 200 in Arnstadt, but permanent staff will not be affected.

This article requires Premium SubscriptionBasic (FREE) Subscription

Unlock unlimited access for 12 whole months of distinctive global analysis

Photovoltaics International is now included.

  • Regular insight and analysis of the industry’s biggest developments
  • In-depth interviews with the industry’s leading figures
  • Unlimited digital access to the PV Tech Power journal catalogue
  • Unlimited digital access to the Photovoltaics International journal catalogue
  • Access to more than 1,000 technical papers
  • Discounts on Solar Media’s portfolio of events, in-person and virtual

Or continue reading this article for free

“The reason is current market situation where we see a dramatic price drop, but not an increase of demand,” Milan Nitzschke, vice president at SolarWorld told PV Tech.

SolarWorld noted in its second quarter 2016 financial report that the number of employees stood at 2,983 globally, up around 5% from the end of the previous quarter. Including temporary workers, which are primarily employed at three production sites, SolarWorld’s workforce had increased 6% from the prior year period to reach a total of 3,766.

Nitzschke said that the “elasticity” of demand is low in the solar market, which results in offers for prices below the cost of production. As a result, every manufacturer in the industry has to take action to adjust production. SolarWorld, which had continued to hire more staff until a few weeks ago, will have to reduce manufacturing production in Q4 with “modest adjustments”. In line with this, the firm will also have to reduce its workforce and lay off some temporary workers.

Nitzschke added: “We are very sorry about that. We hope that in 2017 we will see market growth again and options to grow for SolarWorld and to increase utilisation of our production and again hiring people.”

China significantly overshot its solar deployment target in the first half of 2016, leading to a worldwide supply glut in PV equipment.

Nitzschke said: “It is a bit cynical that even one of the biggest economies in the world like the EU is so much affected by state planning in China as we see again here.”

According to Deutsche Bank’s US market analyst Vishal Shah, strong PV manufacturing capacity expansion growth in the second half of 2016 and 2017 is expected to lead to a global 16% solar module oversupply through the period.

Yesterday, a PV Tech blog considered how low module prices can go with the solar industry entering it second major overcapacity cycle.

Major Taiwanese PV manufacturer Motech Industries said in a financial filing on September, 19 that it had reduced its temporary workforce headcount by 200, around 4% of its total workforce at it manufacturing operations at the Southern Taiwan
Science Park. 

Reports surfaced on September, 20 that Korean-based monocrystalline wafer producer SKC Solmics cancelled a polysilicon supply agreement with Korean-based major polysilicon producer, OCI worth US$108.56 million as SKC Solmics planned to exit the sector altogether. Job losses were not reported.

Recently, SunPower stunned the market in releasing second quarter financial results with another round of manufacturing restructuring with the loss of 1,200 jobs (15% of workforce) with 1,000 job losses at its module assembly plant in the Philippines that would close. The company would consolidate the majority of module assembly at its plant in Mexico.

Additional reporting by Mark Osborne

21 August 2024
5pm BST
FREE WEBINAR -This webinar will feature the perspectives and views of PV Tech’s Head of Research, Dr. Finlay Colville, on how the U.S. PV manufacturing landscape is changing today and when we might expect additions to encompass cells and wafers. This will be followed by a PV Tech special – a look inside one of the first new PV module fabs built in the U.S. this year; SEG Solar’s new site in Texas. Join Jim Wood, CEO at SEG Solar, as he walks around the new factory showing key features and explaining the rational for SEG Solar in making this investment into U.S. PV manufacturing in 2024.
26 November 2024
Málaga, Spain
Understanding PV module supply to the European market in 2025. PV ModuleTech Europe 2024 is a two-day conference that tackles these challenges directly, with an agenda that addresses all aspects of module supplier selection; product availability, technology offerings, traceability of supply-chain, factory auditing, module testing and reliability, and company bankability.
11 March 2025
Frankfurt, Germany
The conference will gather the key stakeholders from PV manufacturing, equipment/materials, policy-making and strategy, capital equipment investment and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out PV manufacturing out to 2030 and beyond.

Read Next

July 17, 2024
Germany has been consistently adding over 1GW of solar PV capacity every month since March 2023, and has passed a total of 90GW capacity.
July 17, 2024
Suntech's chairman Wu Fei on why his company has the right attributes to weather the latest PV industry reshuffle.
July 16, 2024
Chinese solar manufacturing giant JinkoSolar will build a 10GW n-type solar cell and module manufacturing facility in Saudi Arabia.
July 16, 2024
North America is expected to be the major market for solar trackers in the upcoming years driven by increased installations in the US.
July 15, 2024
Chinese solar module manufacturer Jinko Solar has secured two contracts to supply 150MW of modules to two solar PV projects in Algeria.
July 12, 2024
PV Tech spoke with Helena Li at the Intersolar Europe 2024 event, about how Trina is looking to ensure effective operations.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
July 31, 2024
1:00 PM (BST) / 2:00PM (CEST)
Solar Media Events
September 24, 2024
Warsaw, Poland
Solar Media Events
September 24, 2024
Singapore, Asia
Solar Media Events
October 8, 2024
San Francisco Bay Area, USA