German Solar Industry Faces Bankruptcy

Future of energy is NOW.

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Workers in Germany’s once booming solar energy industry face a shakeout of major proportions following declines in the price of solar panels over the past year. A decision by the German government earlier this year to phase out nuclear energy has done little to reignite the sector. The resulting power gap is likely to be filled by coal and gas rather than solar and wind energy. — Sarah Marsh and Christoph Steitz, Reuters, 15 December 2011

Solon SE slumped the most in eight years in Frankfurt trading after becoming the first publicly traded solar company from Germany to file for insolvency. The Berlin-based company filed for insolvency after failing to reach an “amicable solution” with banks and investors, it said in a statement yesterday. “I would be surprised if Solon remains the only European company struggling,” said Henning Wicht, an analyst at researcher IHS Isuppli. –Stefan Nicola, Bloomberg, 14 December 2011

Solon’s insolvency filing is likely to be followed by other high-profile German solar company failures, analysts said, as the blood-letting in the global industry intensifies. Shares in Solon plunged 58 percent on Wednesday after the solar module maker announced the filing late the previous day, becoming Germany’s first major casualty of a crisis in the sector. “Solar managers and experts warned already about further bankruptcies,” a Frankfurt-based trader said. –Christoph Steitz, Reuters, 14 December 2011

WHEN is a job not a job? Answer: when it is a green job. Jobs in an industry that raises the price of energy effectively destroy jobs elsewhere; jobs in an industry that cuts the cost of energy create extra jobs elsewhere. You will hear claims from Chris Huhne, the anti-energy secretary, and the green-greed brigade that trousers his subsidies for their wind and solar farms, about how many jobs they are creating in renewable energy. But since every one of these jobs is subsidised by higher electricity bills and extra taxes, the creation of those jobs is a cost to the rest of us. The anti-carbon and renewable agenda is not only killing jobs by closing steel mills, aluminium smelters and power stations, but preventing the creation of new jobs at hairdressers, restaurants and electricians by putting up their costs and taking money from their customers’ pockets. –Matt Ridley, City A.M., 15 December 2011

The parallel-energy universe known as renewables, a place where dollars and economic theory know no bounds and make no sense, looks increasingly like a bubble set to collapse. Or, as I wrote here back in March of 2010: “That eerie hissing you hear may well be the air beginning to seep out of the green energy bubble. The sound is similar to the pfffffft and sshhhhsssssp noises we heard in the early days of the dot-com bubble collapse or the subprime mortgage meltdown.” –Terence Corcoran, Financial Post, 15 December 2011

EU carbon prices fell to their lowest ever level on Wednesday as the euro currency and equities slid on renewed fears over the bloc’s debt crisis and oil prices tanked after producers promised to maintain high output. “I still don’t see any bottom to this market,” said one carbon trader. “It’s clear that Durban didn’t help, and Canada’s announcement of its Kyoto Protocol withdrawal tells you what little countries think about international agreements,” he added. –Reuters, 14 December 2011

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