SilexSolar has announced the permanent closure of its solar module assembly plant in Sydney, following the temporary shuttering of the facility last November. The company, a subsidiary of Silex Systems Pty Ltd, will continue to operate in order to service product warranties and to finish some commercial projects already in the process of being developed.
Thus ends the saga of the company that was once Australia’s only solar panel manufacturer. SilexSolar began production of solar panels at the former BP Solar plant at Homebush/Olympic Park in April 2010, and gained notoriety for the remarkable origin of its products. Production capacity increased with growing demand during the boom instigated in great part by the NSW government’s generous Solar Bonus Feed-in Tariff scheme. The boom ended abruptly, however, when the scheme was suddenly slashed, and Silex suffered from the slowdown along with many solar installers in the state. Silex made the decision to cease producing its own photovoltaic cells, instead opting to import them and continue to only assemble modules in Sydney. Still facing pressure some time after this decision, module production was then suspended temporarily, then resumed again briefly before the news of the closure came last week.
SilexSolar CEO Craig Menzies, in an open letter to SilexSolar customers, cited the insurmountable competitive pressures that Silex faced from overseas module manufacturers, in particular the Chinese panel makers, and the unstable policy environment created by the state and federal governments.
“It is regrettable that we must announce today that the decision has been made cease the panel manufacturing operations of SilexSolar. As evidenced by the recent anti-dumping trade case decided by the US Department of Commerce, Australian based panel manufacturing will remain unsustainable in the face of Solar PV inventories that are anticipated to continue to far outweigh demand. Without some form of regulation, distorted selling prices make it impossible for local manufacturer’s to compete on a level playing field.”
© 2012 Solar Choice Pty Ltd
He is now the communications manager for energy technology startup SwitchDin, but remains an occasional contributor to the Solar Choice blog.
James lives in Newcastle in a house with a weird solar system.
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