Update: 10.45AM – We have been informed by Silex Solar the ABC report referenced below as it appeared earlier this morning is incorrect. Silex Solar will continue to manufacture solar panels at its Sydney Olympic Park plant. Key changes to the company include “replacing cells made by Silex with third party cells from a new strategic partner.” This will involve around 30 redundancies. Full details here.
In another blow to New South Wales’ already troubled solar industry, the ABC is reporting Australia’s only solar panel manufacturing facility, operated by Silex Solar, will be closing its doors after less than 2 years in operation.
Silex Systems Ltd acquired the Sydney Olympic Park solar manufacturing facility once owned by BP Solar in 2009. Things started off well for the company, buoyed by favourable press and a solid product with a “made in Australia” tag.
In April 2010, the company had signed its first distributor agreement. In July 2010, Silex Solar announced a significant expansion of its local production capacity, in response to strong demand. The company planned to ramp up its 13MW production capacity to 20MW. The facility was at the time the largest photovoltaic manufacturing plant in the Southern Hemisphere.
However, in June 2011, Silex Solar CEO Dr. Michael Goldsworthy sounded a warning, stating Chinese products flooding the local market were “trampling over Australian local manufacturing.”
According to the ABC report, the company said a “very tough market” was to blame for its decision to close the facility. The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union is reportedly pointing its finger squarely at the the New South Wales Government’s bungled handling of the Solar Bonus Scheme and consequent fallout, which has plunged the NSW solar sector into an ever-deepening crisis.
Silex solar panels were selected for Australia’s Parliament House in Canberra. The solar modules are installed on the roof of the Senate wing and the gardener’s compound of Parliament House.
Silex will continue manufacturing solar cells at its overseas facilities.