Green Job-less: BP Solar axes 620 workers

April 1, 2009

From today’s Guardian (UK):

BP is to axe 620 jobs from its solar power business – more than a quarter of that workforce – in a move it said was part of the long-term strategy to “reduce the cost of solar power to that of conventional electricity.”

Two cell manufacture and module assembly plants near Madrid, will be shut with the loss of 480 posts while module assembly will also be phased out at its Frederick facility in Maryland, US, with a further 140 redundancies.

BP blamed the cutbacks on the credit crunch and lower-cost competition saying its global manufacturing capacity would still increase during this year and next via a series of strategic alliances with other companies.

“We deeply regret the impact of this business decision on our employees and the local communities,” said Reyad Fezzani, chief executive of BP Solar. “We have a long history at both the Madrid and Frederick sites. Competitive hi-tech manufacturing of ingots, wafers and cells will continue at Frederick. Engineering, technology product development, sales and marketing and other business support functions will also remain at both Frederick and Madrid.”

He said solar markets had been “unsettled by the impact of the global economic environment”, adding that the market had been over-supplied as competition increased and prices had fallen.

Fezzani said the cuts would lead to lower prices for solar power: “The decision is part of the long term strategy to reduce the cost of solar power to that of conventional electricity.”

Perhaps the green job-less in Maryland can find work with President Obama’s stimulus bill program to caulk and weather-strip American homes.

One Response to “Green Job-less: BP Solar axes 620 workers”

  1. geophys55 Says:

    I once had the greatest enthusiasm for solar power. I, in fact, have a single solar panel on my roof. It was an experiment that showed me the true problems with photovoltaics.

    1. They’re not cheap. A 40 Watt (peak) panel cost me like 250 bucks ten years ago. I haven’t looked recently, but I’ll bet it’s not much better.

    2. Weeks of cloud cover – not at all unusual in Houston.

    3. You have to store the energy and the most efficient and cost effective batteries are still flooded lead-acid. These have to be cared for like babies. They have to be replaced every few years and they ain’t cheap, neither.

    Don’t get me wrong – for a remote or mobile power solution, photovoltaics work, because power lines are a magnitude above in installation cost or impossible. But for practical urban or suburban power, don’t be silly.

    BP has a big office just down the road from ny work. I’ve been there for meetings. They have a solar panel array on the roof of the parking garage. Its been there for about ten years and they make a big deal out of how much CO2 it saves. But it’s a small part of a big campus of buildings and it’s the first, last and only solar array on the property.

    Draw your own conclusions.

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