March 27, 2012 / 8:02 AM / in 7 years

UPDATE 2-Centrotherm, Q-Cells hit by solar power industry crisis

* Centrotherm 2011 net loss 15.9 mln eur, does not give outlook

* Q-Cells 2011 net loss 846 mln eur, to remain loss-making

* Q-Cells says examining whether to join anti-dumping initiative (Adds details on anti-dumping initiative)

By Christoph Steitz

FRANKFURT, March 27 (Reuters) - German solar power firms Centrotherm and Q-Cells both reported heavy losses on Tuesday, in results symptomatic of an industry struggling worldwide with rapid price declines, production overcapacities, plunging government subsidies and cheaper rivals from Asia.

Q-Cells, once the world’s largest maker of photovoltaic cells, also said it was considering whether to throw its weight behind an initiative to file a trade complaint in the EU against alleged price dumping by Chinese rivals.

“We are in talks with our competitors in Europe about this,” Nedim Cen, chief executive of Q-Cells, said.

The initiative, spearheaded by Germany’s SolarWorld , has already led to the United States last week imposing import duties on Chinese exports, although the levels of tariff disappointed U.S. manufacturers.

Western firms have criticised Chinese solar companies for years, alleging they receive lavish credit lines to offer modules at cheaper prices.

Centrotherm, a maker of machines needed to produce solar cells and modules, reported on Tuesday it made a net loss of 15.9 million euros ($21.2 million) after making a net profit of 51.1 million euros in 2010. It did not provide an outlook for sales and profits this year.

Q-Cells, hit by large writedowns on inventories, posted a 2011 net loss of 846 million euros after reporting a net profit of 30 million euros in 2010, and said it also expected to remain loss-making in 2012.

U.S.-based First Solar and China’s Suntech also reported quarterly losses recently.

“2012 will be a lost year for the industry,” Nedim Cen, chief executive of Q-Cells, told reporters on a conference call, pointing to continuing pricing pressure for voltaic cells and falling government subsidies for solar power in Germany.

Europe’s biggest economy, which is also the world’s second-largest market for new installations of solar panels, aims to slash financial support for solar power.

“The sector is undergoing a consolidation phase, and its further development depends on a large number of factors, including influences from politics and the financial markets, which are currently difficult to predict,” Centrotherm said.

The current crisis has led to a wave of bankruptcies in the United States, most notably panel makers Solyndra LLC and Evergreen Solar. In Germany Solon, Solar Millennium and Solarhybrid have all filed for insolvency proceedings in recent months. ($1=0.7504 euros) (Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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