Motech Industries Inc (茂迪), the nation’s biggest solar cell maker, yesterday said it planned to shut down factories at its money-losing US polysilicon manufacturing unit and sell the assets as falling solar cell prices drive the company into a deep financial abyss.
“Drastic changes in the solar industry has made it difficult for polysilicon producer AE Polysilicon Corp to reach economies of scale and has weakened its price competitiveness,” the solar cell maker said in a statement submitted to the Taiwan Stock Exchange.
The price of polysilicon, a raw material used to make solar wafers, dropped to about US$22 per kilogram, according to a survey released last week by market researcher TrendForce Corp (集邦科技). That was a dramatic decline from a peak of US$500 per kilogram in 2008.
Motech said AE Polysilicon, of which the Taiwanese company owns a 30 percent share, is laying off employees. As of April 30, Motech had invested US$26 million in AE Polysilicon since 2006 and has prepaid US$15 million for future purchases of polysilicon, company spokesman Jack Hsieh (謝祖葳) said in the statement.
Last year, Motech booked NT$370 million (US$12.48 million) in non-operating losses, primarily from AE Polysilicon, according to the company’s stock exchange filing. Motech lost NT$2.49 billion last year.
Motech posted smaller losses for the first quarter, at NT$981 million, on the back of improved factory utilization, compared with a loss of NT$1.94 billion in the final quarter of last year and a net profit of NT$686 million in the same period last year.
Motech shares dropped 0.72 percent to NT$47.95 yesterday, while local rival E-Ton solar Tech Co Ltd (益通) rallied 4.03 percent to NT$15.5.