German Solar Manufacturer SMA Profits Take A Hit. Forecast Looks Dire

Yet another German solar manufacturer appears to be reaching the end of the line.

The German TAZ here reports that profits for SMA Solar in 2011 fell by more than a half, to 166 million euros.

In light of the fall in prices in the branch and planned cuts in subsidies in Germany, SMA anticipates a further decrease in sales and profitability.”

Yet, SMA director Pierre-Pascal Urbon is still optimistic. To avert the ill fate of other solar manufacturers in Germany, like Q-Cells and Solarworld, SMA aims expand business in foreign markets. China is a huge market, but Chinese manufacturers are subsidized by the Chinese government, which distorts competition, Urbon claims. Imagine that – subsidies distorting competition. That of course would never happen in Germany or Europe, now would it?  (sarc off)

SMA sales in 2011 sank from 1.9 billion euros to 1.7 billion. The TAZ writes:

This year revenue is expected to sink to 1-2 to 1.5 billion euros, the company said.

The main reason for the expected decline are the reduced feed-in rates that the government mandates for producers of solar energy in Germany, which go into effect on April 1, 2012. The change in feed-in tariffs will result in drops of up to 40%,

Because of Germany’s overly generous feed-in tariff paid to solar power producers in the past, half of the world’s solar power generation capacity is said to have been installed in Germany, a country that gets as much sunshine as Alaska.

12 responses to “German Solar Manufacturer SMA Profits Take A Hit. Forecast Looks Dire”

  1. John F. Hultquist

    and wind. Part of the support was to build these things. Part, via the feed-in rates, help produce downstream profit. Maintenance and replacement costs will eat into the profits. Within a few years the declining profits may lead to asset sales, tax loss accounting, and whatever else the companies and supportive governments can muster. In the US, part of the plan seems to be to make other energy sources more expensive or simply regulate them out and, thereby, make the green things seem better. The cost to our economy is there – just better hidden.

    The end-game will be to find a use for nonfunctioning solar panels and wind turbines or to recycle the parts therein. What to do with a 100 meter hollow tube?

    In the US most “green-jobs” are not what you think. Producing steel in the US is about half recycled. Recycling is good = green job. Drive a bus that uses gas – not green. Drive a bus that qualifies as “clean energy” = green job. See:

    Words mean what the pols say they mean. Sense or nonsense, who cares?

    1. Ed Caryl

      What to do with a 100 meter hollow tube?
      Join a lot of them end to end and use them to transport oil!

  2. John F. Hultquist

    First line was:
    I’ve been wondering about the pull-back of government support for solar

  3. Asmilwho

    Interestingly, Mage Solar had some TV spots on ARD this evening (during the football).

    Mind you there were also ads for the Opel Ampera and Renault Z.E. Electric / hybrid cars, maybe there was an “Earth Hour” effect this evening.

    Quite how the ecos would see the ads with all their electrics switched off is another matter …

  4. mwhite

    Piers Corbyn in Munchen

    4. Internationale Klima- und Energiekonferenz in München, Nov 2011. Wie akkurate und langfristige Wettervorhersagen möglich sind.

  5. Bernd Felsche

    Hang on… I’ll go outside and collect some dust to send over to Germany; so that the “renewable energy” industry has some to bite.

    1. Josh

      News of solar manufacturer companies going broke and profits taking a dive are of little surprise to me. Solar energy is an inherently dilute form of energy meaning that costs (direct and indirect) are going to be an issue for quite some time.

  6. Josh

    I find it ironic that opponents of nuclear energy should cite cost as a reason to abandon its use. So-called renewables probably wouldn’t be around in any capacity if not for subsidies

    1. Ulrich Elkmann

      I wouldn’t know…Most of the stuff I have fed on was either renewable, or it fed on such renewable stuff growing out of the ground (it’s not “renewable” all the way down the enrgy pyramid, since the converters running the nitrogen fixation run on fossil energy – and the harvesters and tractors, and the slaughterhouses…). Also, since forestry in Germany means replanting every felled tree with even more trees (forests have increased by a third in the last 100 years), using anything made of wood, newspapers, “dead tree editions” should count (converting the stuff into something usable costs not-so-grren energy, but the same goes for all the eco stuff). Acutally, just looking at a tree and calculating the efficiency of photosynthesis might be enough to cast some doubt on the dreams of running industrial processes on it.

  7. Josh


    Some interesting observations. It seems that advocates of biofuels are unaware of the extent of fossil fuel input. I have just finished reading an entry on these, written by Howard Hayden. It turns out also that biofuels aren’t a very productive use of land. The problem with powering an industry on renewables is that the flux density is inherently much lower than it is with either coal or nuclear. I didn’t know that the forests in Germany were doing so well. Hopefuly the ‘Great Transformation’ won’t reverse that trend

  8. Josh

    Correction: Great Transformation. I should give Germany a capital G too lol

  9. archaeopteryx

    Solar Trust of America (70% Solar Millenium AG) filed for bankruptcy on April 2. Citibank and Deutsche Bank had been “financial advisors”.

    The funny bit is that any engineer, or venture capitalist, who was alive in the early 80’s could have predicted this (and many have done so).

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