Tuesday, February 07, 2012
Solar industry problems are spreading to wafer and ingot manufacturers.
So far, Oregon's manufacturers appear intact, with relatively new factories that are automated and efficient enough to withstand plunging world prices for the solar ingredients. But one closure hits close to home: A spokesman for Sanyo, a Japanese company with a plant in Salem, confirmed Monday that it would shut a California factory that makes solar wafers using older technology.
Producers blame a worldwide glut of silicon ingots and the wafers they're sliced into to make the solar cells that go inside panels. As with cells and panels, much of the oversupply results from increased production in China, analysts say, as well as demand declines from reduced European subsidies for solar power.
The analysts say industry turmoil and continued low prices will at least indirectly affect Sanyo, SolarWorld and other companies with Oregon operations that the state has subsidized to attract. Across the United States, some factories could move to other states, such as Texas and Mississippi, that offer rich incentives, said Fatima Toor, a Lux Research analyst in Boston. She expects more closures, layoffs, mergers and potential bankruptcies.
Read more at OregonLive.com.