Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses Power

Bosch Finds Solar Business Unprofitable, Exits 477

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-silver-lining-in-actual-clouds dept.
New submitter rwise2112 writes "German engineering company Bosch said Friday that it is abandoning its solar energy business, because there is no way to make it economically viable.'We have considered the latest technological advances, cost-reduction potential and strategic alignment, and there have also been talks with potential partners,' Bosch CEO Volkmar Denner said. 'However, none of these possibilities resulted in a solution for the solar energy division that would be economically viable over the long term.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Bosch Finds Solar Business Unprofitable, Exits

Comments Filter:
  • by RevDisk (740008) on Friday March 22, 2013 @01:40PM (#43249535) Journal
    But I'm also aware without government subsidies, it's not economically viable. On the large scale.

    That said, I love having a solar panel on my pack when I'm out hiking. It is a nice option when you're somewhere without access to the grid.
  • FINANCIALLY viable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Errol backfiring (1280012) on Friday March 22, 2013 @01:42PM (#43249553) Journal
    They probably mean that they cannot make enough money on it. Economically viable means that your situation (literally your household) improves. Most probably they are economically far more viable than cheap polluting alternatives.
  • Capitalism (Score:1, Insightful)

    by physlord (1790264) on Friday March 22, 2013 @01:45PM (#43249603) Homepage

    So, if something is nor producing money is not worth to try, even when we all know the long therm benefits for the planet and for ourselves.

    We uncultured swines, don't deserve the planet we live in.

  • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Friday March 22, 2013 @01:52PM (#43249693) Journal

    If cars need gas, we'll either need to figure out how to create gas from atmospheric CO2 (probably more biodiesel) or give up on cars in not too terribly long. Eh. Electric or hydrogen will work, it will just take time to ramp up.

    As for power plants. I can certainly see Nuclear as been a good and viable plan for the future (keep them away from coasts and tectonically active regions), but... What is wrong with also using solar? In areas where there is a lot of sunlight, and low enough latitude, solar is a perfectly viable solution. If it can be almost viable in Germany, there are certainly many parts of Africa, the American Southwest, and Central America that could use it just fine.

  • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Friday March 22, 2013 @01:53PM (#43249707)

    But I'm also aware without government subsidies, it's not economically viable.

    Nor are most things.

    Government subsidies have been a fact of life since the days of the Pharaohs.

  • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc AT carpanet DOT net> on Friday March 22, 2013 @01:55PM (#43249723) Homepage

    Seriously, do I have to think of everything?

    Look you can produce a product, put it on the market, blah blah blah. Fuck that. Do what lockheed does.

    1. Open a number of plants within the US, get the politicians to give speeches about how wonderful each plant will be locally. Make sure to choose towns that would be as deastated as possible by any future plant closure.

    2. Lobby congress directly to buy the solar panels as a national security issue, and ignoring any irresponsible departments who claim they are not cost effective or they don't need them.

    3. If #2 doesn't work right away, threaten to close individual plants, rinse and repeat until congress orders enough to ensure your profits. Be sure to tell your employees that the plant might be closing because of the uncertainty around government orders. Try to get the whole town involved.

    4. Once they are buying them, get them to throw a few orders into the foriegn aid bucket. (Isreal needs solar power to keep it safe from Iran!)

    5. Profit.

  • Re:Unprofitable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ziggitz (2637281) on Friday March 22, 2013 @02:04PM (#43249823)
    It's a huge problem if they selling them below their own production costs. It's a strategy to push your competitors out of a market by selling a competing product at a an unsustainable loss. When the competitor leaves the market you use your new found monopoly to ramp up the prices to extortionate rates. The outcome is almost never in the public interest.
  • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Friday March 22, 2013 @02:05PM (#43249831) Homepage

    But I'm also aware without government subsidies,

    The problem aren't government subsidies, but simply that companies in China can produce cheaper solar cells then Bosch can. The solar business is full of companies and lots of competition and it's hard to get a lot of money out of that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 22, 2013 @02:06PM (#43249855)

    What I find ironic is that the US Congress "saved" Harley when there was legit competition from overseas motorcycle makers by levying punitive tariffs.

    However, something as vital to our national security as energy independence, Congress lets China dump panels on the market for less than the cost of the rare earths in them.

    Ironic this. Even more ironic was the fact that 3-5 months before the dumping happened, every major US solar maker was being inundated by intrusion attempts, both foiled or successful.

    I'm sorry, Harleys are decent bikes, but they are definitely not critical to US national security, while solar panels are.

    Oh yeah... we have wind, but with voltage losses, the noise factor, the demonstrated stress in animals, and bird kills, wind power does not even come close to solar as a good solution to slow down the use of oil or coal.

  • Re:Solar is great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BLKMGK (34057) <morejunk4me&hotmail,com> on Friday March 22, 2013 @02:06PM (#43249859) Homepage Journal

    I looked into this myself. With the 30% credit and for a 3KW system the vendor was offering it was right around $30K using 280watt panels. My bills are actually pretty low, well below $200 on the worst month and power here is fairly cheap. The guy was figuring efficiency levels fairly low and I'd have probably done better but the payoff for this system was quite long. I decided to skip the system, the wattage potential was too low and the payoff far too long. I have a South facing home but apparently need more roof. The vendor also seemed to be pricing high and with no State incentives I just couldn't see myself doing it, I wish I could.

    Bosch exiting the market isn't good IMO. They have been doing this a very long time and for them to find the business untenable really signals that the market may not be healthy. I do understand their frustration at the dumping that has occurred but if you price panels those are the ones that are actually affordable. They really need to drive prices downward or the price of electricity needs to rise a great deal before it's worth it - at least when there are so few incentives. Overall I would agree that we need to get more people into solar, yes even with Govt. incentives. Once the install hurdle is passed the damned things produce power for a good long time during peak usage hours. It simply makes sense as a nation to do this IMO but until prices to the consumer come down I don't see any mass movement in that direction :-9

  • Re:Capitalism (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chill (34294) on Friday March 22, 2013 @02:07PM (#43249869) Journal

    In a word, yes.

    Money is a proxy here for the input/output ratio of resources, energy and labor.

    Not making money means consuming more in energy, resources and labor than you get in return. That in itself isn't good for the planet, or us uncultured swines.

    What you probably want to whine about is not producing ENOUGH money to satisfy investors. Then we get into opportunity costs, and deeper into economics that I want to bother going in this post.

  • Re:Unprofitable (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BLKMGK (34057) <morejunk4me&hotmail,com> on Friday March 22, 2013 @02:12PM (#43249943) Homepage Journal

    While I agree that the dumping is a problem high cost is an issue all around. It makes sense to invest in this technology IMO but with power prices where they are it's a low incentive to get people to move. The payoff on the system I looked at was something well over 10 years - who stays in a home that long? I do and have but we're now talking 1- MORE years! Push costs down on this technology and I can see people investing in it but until that happens even the panels being dumped aren't enough to push prices down far enough for most people. It would also help if there was more competition in the market for installers but that's a chicken\egg problem I'm afraid. I think the quote I was getting for panels was probably damned high but I had a hell of a time even finding a local vendor that would come out and give me a price - argh!

  • How long term? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Friday March 22, 2013 @02:12PM (#43249947) Journal

    Petroleum isn't economically viable over the long term either.

  • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Friday March 22, 2013 @02:23PM (#43250095)
    I want a nuclear powered electric car.

    A co-worker of mine has one. It's powered (mainly) by the nuclear plant up the road.
  • Re:Unprofitable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Smidge204 (605297) on Friday March 22, 2013 @02:31PM (#43250229) Journal

    The payoff on the system I looked at was something well over 10 years - who stays in a home that long? I do and have but we're now talking 1- MORE years!

    1) Half of home owners stay in their home at least 10 years. Buying a new home is a good time to do remodeling and renovations, so it's also a good time to install PV solar.

    2) Roughly a third of home owners stay in their home at least 20 years.

    3) A PV system adds value to the home which can be used as a potential selling point and increase the asking price if you decide to move, so it's not like the entire unrecovered cost of the installation is lost.
    =Smidge=

  • by tlambert (566799) on Friday March 22, 2013 @02:33PM (#43250263)

    No, it's called productivity.

    The manufacturing costs for manufacturing a generally similar in both Europe and China, balancing German automation + power costs vs. Chinese labor costs.

    What isn't the same is the after-cost of adhering to German vs. Chinese environmental regulations.

    Most industrialized nations could easily save their local manufacturing bases by imposing requirements on products being manufactured in accordance to local environmental standards in the locations they are sold. It's optional whether they would want to impose environmental tarrifs and take the product anyway, despite "dirty" manufacturing, or simply block entry of the product into the country.

    For China, depending on how far up the supply chain you wanted to push the requirement, you could take it to the point of requireing scrubbers on the stacks of the coal-fired power plants that powered the manufacturing facilities.

    It's ironic that environmentalism has succeeded only in moving the mess out of view (to China), rather than keeping the mess from being injected into the global ecosystem anyway. But at least health care costs tend to go down when you have no local manufacturing going on, due to a reduction in pollutants.

  • by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Friday March 22, 2013 @02:46PM (#43250471)
    Coal isn't economically viable either unless you subsidize it. Like allowing unlimited CO2 emissions...

    Charge coal to handle that and it fast becomes unprofitable.
  • by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Friday March 22, 2013 @02:48PM (#43250507)
    And other energy sources need to have their long term costs included in their prices...like CO2 release. Solar will shine once you charge for CO2 release and the damage it causes.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 22, 2013 @03:16PM (#43250939)

    A CO2 charge would not be a good thing. Rich people could burn all the shit they want, while the poor would have to stop breathing.

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Friday March 22, 2013 @03:25PM (#43251071) Homepage Journal

    Nor are most things.

    - In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!

    Think about your statement and realise that it is nonsense. You can't have an economy where "most things" are subsidised because otherwise they are not economically viable. You end up sucking out all energy out of everything to subsidise.... everything?

    OTOH what USA has now is something to that effect, where actually the biggest sectors of the economy are subsidised with inflation and taxes (and thus all of it is redistribution), the only way USA can 'sustain' such a pattern of behaviour for such a long time, is because it's NOT subsidising everything for everybody.

    It uses the inflation mechanism to subsidise USA economy by taxing the economies of all the foreigners that hold (or get paid in) US dollars.

    Unless you found a way to go around entropy, you can't claim that all or even most things are subsidised by government and it is somehow a sustainable model.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 22, 2013 @03:41PM (#43251241)

    When someone takes my money (in the form of taxes) to give it away to something stupid, or to people that don't work, it is retroactive slavery. They are taking away from me the time I spent working for that money. Instead of working for myself I was actually working to pay for things I did not agree with for someone else. And don't tell me I benefit from solar power because I don't.

  • by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Friday March 22, 2013 @03:50PM (#43251357)
    You demonstrate why we need better educations systems anyway.

    *Breathing* does not contribute to CO2 in any harmful way. It's a natural cycle as that CO2 was removed from the environment within the last year (or 20 once Twinkies are back!). Same for burning wood. It was recently taken out of the atmosphere and put back, net zero over a timeframe the earth can handle and still keep us alive.

    Adding millions of years worth of CO2 to the atmosphere in just a century is much much different.
  • by s.petry (762400) on Friday March 22, 2013 @04:04PM (#43251563)

    You are an idiot comparing bananas to goats. The end. Your post that follows this one is like claiming that roads are not important, or keeping sea ways clear is not important, etc.. Governments are supposed to subsidize projects which better society.

    Coal, Gas, and Oil are known to be horrible for society. If you have doubts, please go purchase a cheap plot of land next to a plant or refinery and take up permanent residence (How cheap the land is should compel you to purchase right? And yes, that land is almost free!). "Cheap" is not better for society when it causes physical harm to members of society and creates sick people which become a burden on the rest of society, and destroys land which belongs to society.

  • Re:Solar is great (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 22, 2013 @04:32PM (#43251873)

    I'm a solar installer, based in Switzerland.
    For $25K I fly with my buddy to wherever you are (presumably in the US somewhere), and install a 3kW PV-System, everything included. Seriously.

    Here is my offer:
    Panels: 12 Trina TSM 245 $200 each, total $2400
    Inverter: SMA Sunny Boy 3000 $1200
    Installation Cost: $3000
    Transport Cost Material/Tools: $2000
    Flight from Europe to somewhere US and back for two person: $5000
    Getting all permits and eventually "bribe", err hire a local electrician: $2000
    2 weeks accomodation, which consist of 13days vaccation and 1 day working: $2000
    Profit: $7400

    Just give me a call

    Markus Amsler
    Eigenstrom GmbH
    http://www.eigenstrom.ch
    markus.amsler@eigenstrom.ch
    ++41 62 877 18 14

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 22, 2013 @04:33PM (#43251881)

    "The Gernans don't think so - they're shutting down their nukes."

    I think you need to understand that the populace of Germany is quite easily being driven into Romantic, or should I say, INSANE states of mind. How could it happen Germany could not find a GERMAN colonel or General for their dictator job ? How is it possible Germany took an AUSTRIAN PRIVATE to be their dictator ? How could the German colonels and generals allow that ? How could German intelligence allow that ??

    Now that Germany can be easily be driven into doing romantic/insane things, killing one of their economic Crown Jewels (nuclear power) and replacing it by an unreliable and insanely expensive energy "source" (solar cells) is just one of the minor Romantic Idiocies of Germany.

    I am German, born to German parents and my English is proper because I had a diligent and well-educated teacher. And yeah, this drives me nuts. No, I am not a shill. I work in automotive and cars have never been propelled by nuclear. Our trains, though...

  • by Solandri (704621) on Friday March 22, 2013 @05:35PM (#43252533)
    You can make all the excuses you want about solar's poor market performance. The bottom line is that solar is far more expensive than other power sources [wikipedia.org]. Frequently by a factor of 2 to 5.

    I'm all for continuing to fund research into improving photovoltaics - they're going to get better eventually. But people have to get it through their heads that the dream of powering our society with sunlight is at present just that - a dream. There are specialized applications (particularly off-grid) where solar is competitive or even ideal. But for powering our society? The reality is that it's currently just about the worst possible choice. And trying to force it into market acceptance with big government incentives will result in a net economic loss, meaning its contribution to the standard of living is negative.

    If you want to insist on clean renewables, wind is far more viable.
  • by meglon (1001833) on Friday March 22, 2013 @06:16PM (#43252919)
    From before the day you were born YOU have used services and gained benefits from the government. You breath clean air, drink clean water, eat safe food, have protection in the form of police, fire fighters and the military. Consumer products are monitored for safety which helps keep you alive every day. You benefit from a power grid, communications, and transportation systems.

    Every generation reinvests into future generations. About 30 years ago some worthless fuck decided he'd lie to the mentally ignorant, and say that government was always the problem. Those worthless fucks now think that they don't need a government, mostly because they're too fucking stupid to understand all the benefits they use EVERY SINGLE FUCKING DAY from the government.

    I'm sorry you're too fucking stupid to understand that, so i'll help you put: Look at it this way... that money being taken from you isn't taxes, it's YOU paying for all the benefits YOU use. Or would you prefer to be fucking stupid AND a thief?
  • by AmazingRuss (555076) on Friday March 22, 2013 @06:31PM (#43253065)

    "Coal, Gas, and Oil are known to be horrible for society."

    Read that. Analyze it. Know that it's nonsensical.

    This is the kind of thing people point to when they want to discredit environmentalism.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 22, 2013 @06:48PM (#43253225)

    ""Cheap" is not better for society when it causes physical harm to members of society and creates sick people which become a burden on the rest of society, and destroys land which belongs to society."

    Go talk to all the poor people in countries with poor energy production and look at their life expectancy. Do you even know what the industrial revolution did for human betterment?

  • by meglon (1001833) on Friday March 22, 2013 @10:22PM (#43254429)

    Cutting government spending is also an investment into future generations.

    Look at it this way... that money being taken from you isn't taxes, it's YOU paying for all the benefits YOU use.

    Now look who's being fucking stupid. Call his bluff. Cut the taxes and the benefits. Then when he's doing really well despite life's adversities, you can tell him "I told you so".

    ...which only shows that you're just like the AC. Fine, let him move off the grid... no electricity, no phone, no roads, no tv, no fresh water unless he goes down to the stream, no medical services, no police, no firefighters, no military protections...and if he's doing just as good as he is now with all that, then the Unibomber has found his long lost twin. Oh wait, even the Unibomber used roadways, and the postal service.... and product safety.

    The biggest threat to our society isn't terrorists, or the national debt, it's fucking clueless asshats who can't think more than it takes to regurgitate a bumper sticker. People like you piss on every American who's come before that wanted this country to succeed, all because of stupid fucking ideology. Your trickle down economics is and was bullshith; a lie, and only mental midgets still believe that fucking crap.

  • by khallow (566160) on Friday March 22, 2013 @11:53PM (#43254825)

    Fine, let him move off the grid... no electricity, no phone, no roads, no tv, no fresh water unless he goes down to the stream, no medical services, no police, no firefighters, no military protections...and if he's doing just as good as he is now with all that, then the Unibomber has found his long lost twin.

    Or he could just pay per use. Just treat government, when it actually provides the service (which isn't always the case BTW), just like any private entity.

    The biggest threat to our society isn't terrorists, or the national debt, it's fucking clueless asshats who can't think more than it takes to regurgitate a bumper sticker.

    Well, that's good advice. I think you ought to consider actually taking it.

"Bureaucracy is the enemy of innovation." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments

Working...