German-based SOLON Corp. recently announced plans to shut down its solar panel manufacturing plant in Tucson, Ariz. The move will eliminate 65 green jobs, but the company says it will concentrate on developing solar energy plants in the utility and commercial sectors instead. This at least will keep 70 employees in Arizona, who will work on SOLON’s research and product development, engineering, finance, project management and sales/marketing efforts.
Manufacturing in Arizona is slated to stop at the end of October and will allow the company to select less expensive solar modules for its projects by working with external partners.
“We regret the near-term impact of this business decision on our employees and the Tucson community, but as a company SOLON is adapting to a rapidly changing solar market,” said Dan Alcombright, CEO and president of North America for SOLON.
Low Demand for SOLON Solar Products Sparks New Initiatives
The main reason behind the SOLON Arizona plant’s closing is competition from low-cost factories overseas. SOLON Corp., which has manufacturing plants in Asia and Europe, actually lost about $90 million during the first half of this year.
“The SOLON product we manufacture here in Tucson may have a better fit and finish than some others, but the market doesn’t really value that,” said Alcombright. “The market values a low price. We are going to stop beating our heads against the wall and say, ‘How can we be smart strategically?’” Alcombright said.
SOLON is erecting solar energy plants for Pacific Gas and Electric Co. as well as Tucson Electric Power Co. and Arizona Public Service Co. These plans will continue even with the slated Arizona manufacturing plant closing.
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