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Germany

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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Green

How Climate Change And Ukraine War Have Put Somalia On The Brink Of Famine

In Somalia, four rainy seasons have failed to arrive, leaving the land desiccated and people starving. But drought alone is not enough to cause these numbers. A perfect storm of factors is setting the stage for a monumental human tragedy that most of the world is ignoring.

Photo of a child walking past a carcass of an animal

A child displaced by drought walks past carcasses of animals, who died from hunger

Francesca Mannochi

BAIDOA — When Oray Adan arrived in Baidoa six months ago, she was pregnant, exhausted and undernourished to the point of not even having the strength to eat. Drought had dried out the land in the village of Bakal Yere, in Somalia, where she and her husband had been farmers. But the drought had condemned their livestock to death and driven the family to starvation. In the month before she fled, three of their four children had died from hunger and diseases that, if they had lived practically anywhere else, would have been easily treated with simple antibiotics.

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To save her surviving two-year-old son and the one she was carrying, Oray Adan walked two weeks and reached the nearest urban center in desperate need of care, water and food. She arrived in Baidoa, a city in south-central Somalia, and was referred to a medical center for malnourished children. She was skeletal, as was the child she held by the hand—a thinness that lingers even now, stretching to her now four-month old newborn, Shukri Mohamed, who should weigh eight pounds, but weighs only two.

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