Spiegel here calls it “the end of an era”.
Once ballyhooed as the technology of the future bearing the promise of economic revival in Germany, solar equipment manufacturing has crumbled and gone the way of dinosaurs, all in a matter of a decade. So rapidly can economic evolution send subsidized industries into extinction.
Germany’s last remaining major solar manufacturer, Bonn-based Solarworld, led by a flamboyant Frank Asbeck, has officially declared it will file for insolvency after 6 years of red ink (operating results). The announcement was made Wednesday.
Thousands of workers who banked their futures on solar jobs now face uncertain futures. Solarworld’s demise is the last in a spectacular series of solar manufacturer bankruptcies that swept across Germany over the past years, with names like Solon, Solar Millenium and Q-Cells going under.
According to Finanzen.net here, Solarworld had over 3000 employees on the payroll at the end of 2016.
In the early 2000s leaders and green energy proponents promised to turn parts of former communist East Germany into a “Solar Valley” that would boast secure, high paying hightech jobs. Today it’s a solar rustbelt with a ruined landscape of shattered visions and dreams. Spiegel calls it a “valley of tears”.
Maserati-driving Green Party co-founder
Solarworld was viewed as the German solar industry’s leader, and its director Asbeck was called the “sun king” and even had solar panels installed on the Vatican and met Pope Benedict XVI personally.
Asbeck, one of the co-founders of the German Green Party and an avid owner of a 300 hp Maserati, blames the company’s woes mainly on cheap imports from China and legal battles in the USA, reports WirtschaftsWoche. Asbeck is reported by Wikipedia to also own expensive properties, such as Schloss Calmuth, Villa Cahn and Schloss Marienfels, Remagen (below):
One of Frank Asbeck’s houses, Schloss Marienfels. Image by CC BY-SA 3.0
In 2016 Solarworld posted a 92 million euro loss. Solarworld’s subsidiary companies are also expected to declare insolvency. The insolvency signifies the end of the manufacture of solar components and technology in the country.