Silex Solar, Australia’s sole solar cell and module manufacturer, has decided to move its solar cell production facilities offshore, citing a ‘tough’ solar market in Australia and its need to remain financially competitive. The company will still assemble its modules at its Sydney Olympic park facility.
Silex’s announcement caused a flurry of media activity, some reporting that Silex would close its Olympic Park manufacturing plant. In particular, the ABC’s wording in their reporting of Silex’s announcement (“Sun sets on Australia’s last solar factory”) could be interpreted as indicating that the plant had closed.
Silex responded with an open letter to its customers and a press release clarifying the news. Although, it is true that 30 jobs will be lost as Silex Solar ceases to manufacture its own solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, the company will now have its cells produced by an as of yet unnamed ‘strategic partner’. However, the plant will continue to be the location of Silex’s solar module assembly and will not be shut down. The company will also appoint a new CEO with ‘considerable operational, sales, and marketing experience’.
Even so, the decision to outsource PV cell manufacturing is a big decision for Silex, whose brand is based strongly on its image of being ‘Made in Australia’. PV cells, which transform light into electricity, are the most integral part of any PV solar panel. Some might say that Silex is sacrificing some of its brand credibility in order to remain competitive and grow its share of the Australian market.
It is uncertain what effect the changes will have on Silex’s sales, but Silex is hopeful. “These are important changes that are needed to better position Silex Solar as a key player in the Australian PV panel solar industry–both in the residential rooftop market and the growing medium-scale commercial market,” stated Dr Michael Goldsworthy, Silex CEO.
© 2011 Solar Choice Pty Ltd
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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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