Solon losses lead to job cuts, reduced workers’ hours
The loss for the Berlin-based firm follows on the heels of an operating profit (Ebit) of €31.5m in the first half of 2008. Revenues tumbled from €410.6m last year to €119.4m – a drop of 71%.
“While demand for solar modules picked up noticeably in the second quarter, the market for solar power station technology continued to suffer from the greatly reduced availability of finance for large-scale projects – a consequence of the financial crisis,” the company says.
Solon launched an extensive restructuring programme in the second quarter, including slashing jobs and employees’ hours, and winnowing production and sales to its core markets of Germany, Italy and the US.
Part of the company’s financial woes in the first half come as the result of larger-than-expected write-downs on two of its key investments, French polysilicon producer Silicium de Provence (SilPro), and Austrian cell-maker Blue Chip Energy.
Solon owns a 48% stake in SOL Holding – a joint venture with failed Dutch renewables company Econcern – which in turn holds a 70% stake in SilPro. SilPro entered administration in April 2009, and SOL Holding is being dissolved following the collapse of Econcern. It has also recently been forced to revalue its investment into Blue Chip, resulting in a €12m hit.
The company is currently in discussions to secure medium-term financing. It is considering spinning off another of its subsidiaries, Austria’s Solon Hilber Technologie, as a way of freeing up money.
Solon says sales of PV components have rebounded sharply in the second quarter, on the back of a “strong revival in demand for solar modules for private and large-scale commercial rooftop installations – particularly in Germany”. It expects to see a continued upturn in business over the course of the year.
The company also insists that the financial climate for building large-scale PV projects is also improving, as it has recently bagged contracts with clients such as California-based utility Pacific Gas & Electric and Norway’s Statkraft. Due to the long lead-time on such projects, however, they will not begin yielding revenue until 2010.
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