European solar industry grapples with bankruptcies, production halts


(MENAFN) The European solar industry, once heralded as a cornerstone in the region's renewable energy ambitions, finds itself grappling with a formidable challenge – an onslaught of bankruptcies, production halts, and imminent closures among key players in the solar supply chain. Despite the European Union's ambitious target of sourcing 45 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, the sector is facing a dire situation exacerbated by fierce competition from imports, particularly from China, the global leader in solar energy technology.

Since August of the previous year, eight European companies deeply entrenched in the solar supply chain have been severely affected, either succumbing to bankruptcy, halting production, or issuing warnings of imminent plant closures and debt restructuring. This alarming trend, highlighted by Solar Power Europe, underscores the inability of local companies to contend with the flood of competitively priced imports flooding the market.

Meyer Berger Technology, a Swiss firm emblematic of the crisis gripping the European solar sector, has witnessed a staggering 87 percent plunge in its shares over the past year. Last week, the company dealt a severe blow to European solar manufacturing by announcing the closure of its solar panel production site in Germany, one of the largest such facilities on the continent. In a bid to salvage its prospects, Meyer Berger Technology is now eyeing a substantial capital raise of up to 250 million Swiss francs through a rights issue, with plans to channel these funds towards expanding its operations into the United States.

Amid mounting pressure on Brussels to intervene and safeguard the floundering local solar industry, policymakers find themselves caught in a conundrum. While imposing strict tariffs or implementing other protective measures could potentially bolster European manufacturers, such actions are fraught with risks and are likely to elicit vehement opposition from customers and solar developers alike. The delicate balance between protecting domestic industries and maintaining competitive market dynamics presents a formidable challenge for policymakers grappling with the fallout from Europe's loss of dominance in solar manufacturing to China in the early 2000s.

Despite hopes for a renaissance in European solar manufacturing, the reality appears grim as the industry grapples with existential threats stemming from import dominance and internal upheaval. As Brussels faces mounting calls to intervene, the future trajectory of the European solar sector remains uncertain, casting a shadow over the region's renewable energy aspirations.

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