Stuttgart-based Bosch Group has announced it will discontinue its activities in the crystalline photovoltaics market and hopes to begin selling off units manufacturing ingots, wafers, cells, and modules beginning of 2014.

All development and marketing activities are likewise to be ended. In a written statement, the company said its module plant in VÃnissieux, France, will be sold, and plans to build a manufacturing facility in Malaysia have been shelled.

However, Bosch Solar CISTech GmbH in Brandenburg, Germany, will be continued “as before“ as a development center for thin-film technology. Its future alignment will be decided at a later date, the company said.

Failure to achieve competitiveness

Over the past years, Bosch Solar Energy has tried unsuccessfully to achieve a competitive position. Due to global overcapacity, which has since become huge, nearly the entire industry is sustaining heavy losses.

Dr. Stefan Hartung, the chairman of the Bosch Solar Energy AG supervisory board and member of the Robert Bosch GmbH management board responsible for the Energy and Building Technology business sector, sums up the situation as follows, “Despite extensive measures to reduce manufacturing cost over the past year, we were unable to offset the drop in prices, which was as much as 40%”

As announced in January 2013, the losses of the Solar Energy division came to some one billion euros last year. The division currently employs some 3,000 associates, roughly 850 of them at aleo solar AG and some 150 at CISTech.

All possible alternatives examined

“Over recent months, Bosch has comprehensively examined every aspect of its solar business. We have considered the latest technological advances, cost-reduction potential, and strategic alignment. And there have also been talks with potential partners. However, none of these possibilities resulted in a solution for the Solar Energy division that would be economically viable over the long term. We deeply regret this,” said Dr. Volkmar Denner, the chairman of the Bosch board of management.

Stefan Hartung added, “We know full well that associates face a difficult time. Together with the employee representatives, we will search for solutions that are as acceptable as possible. We appreciate the hard work done by our Solar Energy associates. Over the past year, our associates have fought hard for the future of their division. For this, we owe them our thanks. Nonetheless, our joint efforts to achieve long-term economic stability failed to bear fruit.”

Next steps

Effective April 1, 2013, the supervisory board of Bosch Solar Energy AG has appointed Dr. Steffen Haack chairman of the management board, with responsibility for sales and technology.

In addition, Franc Gruber has been appointed the management board member responsible for commercial affairs. Haack has been the management board member responsible for sales since August 1, 2012. Gruber has worked for Bosch in various executive commercial functions within and outside Germany since January 1, 2000, most recently in the corporate controlling department.

The present chairman of the board of management of Bosch Solar Energy AG, Holger von Hebel, and the management board members Dr. Volker Nadenau and JÃrgen Pressl will resign from the company board of management effective March 31, 2013.

Commenting on these changes, Stefan Hartung said, “In Steffen Haack and Franc Gruber, we have experienced board members who will initiate the steps that are now necessary and see them through to completion. We would like to thank Holger von Hebel, Volker Nadenau, and Jurgen Pressl for their dedication.”