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CENTROSOLAR closes solar module plant due to Econcern crisis

CENTROSOLAR is closing the solar module plant in Doesburg, the Netherlands, run by its 100% subsidiary Ubbink Solar Modules BV (USM), as a repercussion to the financing problems at renewable energy developer Econcern.

Econcern’s subsidiary Ecostream Switzerland GmbH has been the principal customer for the solar modules manufactured by USM.

USM’s workforce of around 70 people will be made redundant, but USM will continue as a legal entity and will meet all its financial obligations, CENTROSOLAR says. The business with Ecostream amounted to €25 million in 2008 making up the lion’s share of the production volume of USM’s solar module plant.

In May, Econcern filed for suspension of payments following the expiry of the groups’ financing facility on 1 April. The company is currently looking for financing solutions.

In April, Econcern announced the job losses of 200 employees and that the company could divest ventures. Econcern also said it would refocus on three core competencies: consultancy services, the development and construction of large solar power plants and solar systems in the built environment, and the development, construction and operation of onshore and offshore windfarms. The main market focus will be on Europe.

CENTROSOLAR acquired the remaining 30% of USM in February 2009, but the purchase price would only have fallen due if Ecostream had purchased the agreed quantities of solar modules in 2009 – hence no payment is due. CENTROSOLAR says that due to the below-average profit margins on the solar modules manufactured for Ecostream, the lasting negative impact on earnings from the loss of Ecostream as a customer “is likely to be very low”, and will not affect CENTROSOLAR’s guidance for 2009.

CENTROSOLAR adds that the closure of the USM plant will not affect CENTROSOLAR’s new 110 MWp solar module plant in Wismar, Germany.

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