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Should The Solar Power Industry Expect Dark Days Ahead?

The bankruptcy of America’s Evergreen Solar has sent chills down the spines of German solar manufacturers. Solar energy company stocks are crashing on the market. But just how vulnerable is the industry?

The Kollbach solar power plant in Bavaria, Germany
The Kollbach solar power plant in Bavaria, Germany
Jennifer Lange

MUNICH -- A US bankruptcy - the one of Evergreen Solar, based in Marlboro, Massachusetts - has shocked the German solar industry. On Tuesday, the news led to big sell-offs of solar stocks on the Frankfurt stock exchange. Phoenix Solar fell 5.7%, SMA Solar and Solarworld over 4%. The Ökodax fell 2.8%.

Investors are scared, wondering now if the same thing might happen to German solar players. "It's not a good sign for German solar firms, who face the same global cost and price pressures as Evergreen Solar," a dealer said.

Germany is the world's top user of solar technology. As of 2010 it had more than 17,000 megawatts (MW) of installed photovoltaic generating capacity, more than five times the capacity in Spain, which is second on the list.

What lead to Evergreen Solar's ruin was competition from China. For two years, the American solar pioneer tried every way it could to stand firm against its cheaper-priced Far Eastern rival. It even moved its own manufacturing base to China.

Nothing doing. Markets are suffering from massive over-capacity, and the fact that leading solar takers like Germany are no longer receiving government subsidies.

Exacerbating the situation in Germany is the fact that CFO Oliver Blamberger of Solar Millennium is leaving the company – under his own steam, according to the company. Martin Löffler will be replacing him as of Sept. 1, 2011, at least until the end of the business year.

Parallel to this, the power station developer is on the radar of investigators on suspicion of insider trading. The German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) is following up information to this effect, a spokeswoman said in confirmation of a Süddeutsche Zeitung report. In late 2009, when Solar Millennium hired former EnBW head Utz Claasen, board member and company founder Hannes Kuhn bought more company stocks before the official announcement had been made.

Things also don't look good for the Saxon firm Roth & Rau. In the first semester, the company fell deep into the red - 18 million euros - from lack of orders and revenue shifts. The previous year it had shown a 5 million euro profit, but in the first six months of 2011 turnover went down 22% to 93 million euros. In light of cancelled orders, the company also can't come up with a prognosis for the future.

Read the original article in German

Photo - Pure3d

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Forced Labor, Forced Exile: The Cuban Professionals Sent Abroad To Work, Never To Return

Noel, a Cuban engineer who had to emigrate to the faraway island of Saint Lucia, tells about the Cuban government's systematic intimidation techniques and coercion of its professionals abroad. He now knows he can never go back to his native island — lest he should never be allowed to leave Cuba again.

Forced Labor, Forced Exile: The Cuban Professionals Sent Abroad To Work, Never To Return

Next stop, Saint Lucia

Laura Rique Valero

Daniela* was just one year old when she last played with her father. In a video her mother recorded, the two can be seen lying on the floor, making each other laugh.

Three years have passed since then. Daniela's sister, Dunia*, was born — but she has never met her father in person, only connecting through video calls. Indeed, between 2019 and 2023, the family changed more than the two little girls could understand.

"Dad, are you here yet? I'm crazy excited to talk to you."

"Dad, I want you to call today and I'm going to send you a kiss."

"Dad, I want you to come for a long time. I want you to call me; call me, dad."

Three voice messages which Daniela has left her father, one after the other, on WhatsApp this Saturday. His image appears on the phone screen, and the two both light up.

The girls can’t explain what their father looks like in real life: how tall or short or thin he is, how he smells or how his voice sounds — the real one, not what comes out of the speaker. Their version of their dad is limited to a rectangular, digital image. There is nothing else, only distance, and problems that their mother may never share with them.

In 2020, Noel*, the girls' father, was offered a two-to-three-year employment contract on a volcanic island in the Caribbean, some 2,000 kilometers from Cuba. The family needed the money. What came next was never in the plans.

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