recession takes bite out of solar wafer production

Norwegian solar technology specialist REC has announced that it is to cut production in its solar wafer arm by about 35 per cent due to a fall in demand brought about by the global downturn.

Although it is not clear whether or not the move will result in redundancies, the company did admit that up to 180 employees will be "affected" by the move.

"We have seen an increasingly difficult market so far this year and we need to take measures to optimise our capacity utilisation and secure flexibility regarding the timing of product deliveries. Although we are temporarily cutting part of our production, we are following market development closely and are making sure that we remain prepared to increase production at short notice," said Ingelise Arntsen, executive vice president at REC Wafer.

The company said it could not say at this stage what effect the production cut would have on overall production this year as it still has not decided how long the "temporary" cut would last.

Despite its troubles, the company has shown that there is still belief in the long-term market for solar. Earlier this month, REC announced plans to shore up its finances to the tune of £800m (8bn Norwegian kroner) by restructuring its existing debt and issuing new shares.

REC is one of the world's largest producers of solar-grade silicon and wafers for solar energy projects, but has faced increasingly tough trading conditions as a result of the economic downturn. According to Reuters reports, shares in the company have dropped by more than 60 per cent in the past 12 months, as concerns have mounted over the short-term outlook for solar suppliers.

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