11 May 2017, 00:00
Sören Amelang Benjamin Wehrmann Julian Wettengel

SolarWorld insolvency/ Zero-support offshore bid “risky and brave”

SolarWorld AG / Reuters

Europe’s former biggest PV panel producer SolarWorld will file for insolvency, the company said in a press release. “Due to the ongoing price erosion and the development of the business,” SolarWorld is now “over-indebted” and lacks a positive prognosis, the press release reads. The company is now looking at whether a similar move is necessary for affiliated companies, it adds.
SolarWorld was finally overwhelmed by Chinese competitors, Christoph Steitz reports for news agency Reuters. After narrowly avoiding insolvency at the turn of the decade, “a renewed wave of cheap Chinese exports (…) was too much to bear for the group,” Steitz says. CEO Frank Asbeck, known as “the Sun King,” said SolarWorld had long “led the fight against illegal price dumping” but eventually succumbed to it, in what Asbeck described as “a bitter step” for Germany’s solar industry, the article says.

Read the press release in English here and the article in English here.

Please note: CLEW will publish an article on SolarWorld's insolvency and the effect on Germany's PV industry later today.

Die Welt

The insolvency of former German PV champion SolarWorld is first and foremost down to CEO Frank Asbeck’s inability to find an appropriate business strategy to react to cheap Chinese competition, Daniel Wetzel writes in Die Welt. Most European PV companies “realised many years ago that it does not make sense to try to compete with gigantic Chinese production capacities” and instead opted to specialise in high-end niche products and innovation, Wetzel says. Asbeck’s company, however, resorted to political lobbying, which could only stem the pressure from Chinese imports for so long, he argues.

Read the article in German here.

Clean Energy Wire

Michael Liebreich, founder of renewable energy research organisation Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), has called the zero-support bid in German offshore wind power auctions “a risky and brave move.” Successful bidders EnBW and Dong Energy were betting on a substantial capacity increase of the turbines and higher power prices, Liebreich said at a press briefing by think tanks Agora Energiewende and Agora Verkehrswende* in Berlin. Liebreich praised Germany’s fixed feed-in tariff policy for getting renewable energy generation off the ground but said the support scheme was “not economically efficient.” Reverse auctions were therefore necessary to “get cheap energy into the hands of users.” Financial support should eventually be dropped altogether to stabilise prices, and policy makers should instead “focus on shutting down dirty energy sources”, he said.

See the CLEW factsheet Germany ponders how to finance renewables expansion in the future for background.

*Like the Clean Energy Wire, Agora Energiewende and Agora Verkehrswende are projects funded by Stiftung Mercator and the European Climate Foundation.


E.ON chief executive Johannes Teyssen plans a quick sale of the group's remaining stake in fossil fuel spin-off Uniper, Christoph Steitz and Tom Käckenhoff report for Reuters. Speaking at the company’s annual general meeting, Teyssen said the sale would recover part of the losses Uniper triggered at E.ON. E.ON’s shareholders had to swallow a 16 billion euro annual net loss for 2016, one of the largest in German corporate history.

Read the story in English here.

For background, read the CLEW factsheet E.ON shareholders ratify energy giant’s split.


Partial diesel bans aimed at improving local air quality are possible in most of Germany’s 20 largest cities, according to a survey by business daily Handelsblatt. 13 cities told the paper they would consider such bans, five said they were undecided and three said they were against bans. “Daimler, BMW and the VW Group are under enormous pressure. The discussion about driving bans unsettles their customers,” the double page report says.

Read the report in German (behind paywall) here.

For background read the CLEW dossier The Energiewende and German carmakers.

Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

The federal economy ministry (BMWi) has made available an English version of last year’s Fifth Energiewende Monitoring Report, together with the accompanying expert statement.

Find the report in English here, the expert statement in English here and an explanation of the monitoring process in English here.

Also read the CLEW article on the report: Experts call for CO2 price to retain Energiewende’s credibility.

City of Berlin

Berlin will end coal-fired energy generation by 2030, the city's government, the Senat, said in a press release. The city will stop using lignite by the end of 2017. A corresponding draft law will now be introduced in the city’s parliament. Berlin currently has six plants using coal as a main or secondary fuel for power and heat generation.

Read the press release in German here.

For background read the CLEW factsheet When will Germany finally ditch coal?

energy post

Energy expert Jeffrey Michel provides an overview of lignite use in Germany in an article for energy post. Among other things, he suggests divestment strategies could have minimal or negative effects on German lignite policy, jobs, structural change and the environment.

Read the article in English here.

For background read the CLEW factsheet When will Germany finally ditch coal?

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
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