U.S. fracking helped kill off German solar firms: Bosch

FRANKFURT Sun Mar 31, 2013 9:23am EDT

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Bosch, one of the world's largest auto parts suppliers, blames the U.S. fracking boom in shale gas for hurting demand for energy-efficient green technologies, its chairman told a German newspaper.

The Stuttgart-based company recently decided to discontinue its photovoltaic solar energy activities at the cost of roughly 3,000 jobs - due largely, but not entirely, to a glut in capacity built up in China.

"Photovoltaic is going through a unique transition. But you cannot entirely dismiss that the use of energy-efficient technologies came under pressure through fracking in the United States," Bosch Chairman Franz Fehrenbach said in the Sunday weekly Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

"The longer availability of fossil fuels naturally has an effect on the (economic) calculation of resource-friendly technologies," he explained.

Fehrenbach swapped his job as chief executive for that of chairman last July, handing over day-to-day control of the company to Volkmar Denner, who became only the seventh CEO to run Bosch since it was founded in 1886.

According to Fehrenbach, last year's 60 gigawatt supply of solar modules around the world was double the amount of global demand, triggering a 40 percent price drop that pushed all manufacturers of photovoltaic systems heavily into the red.

"After this destructive phase there won't likely be a crystalline photovoltaic manufacturer left in Europe that is competitive," the Bosch chairman added.

After first entering the market in 2008 Bosch decided last week to pull out of the solar energy business - an unusual strategic reversal for a company that rarely is forced to eliminate jobs.

The business generated a loss of 1 billion euros ($1.28 billion) in 2012 and its value was written down to zero.

(Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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Comments (1)
pk32819 wrote:
If US fracking (read: lower energy prices) killed off the German solar firms, as the BOSCH CEO claims, then these are the good news. One has to understand that the German solar success was built almost entirely on very generous government subsities. In this respect, the Chinese did the world (Germany included), a very big favor by investing billions in low-cost solar production, thus allowing us to have cheap renewables, which is just about the only choice that we have in reversing the damaging effects of our hydrocarbon-based economies. The Germans may have lost, but the world at large gained a lot from this reversal of fortunes.

Apr 02, 2013 7:29pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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