Centrotherm submitted an application to the District Court of Ulm to launch insolvency protection proceedings and pursue a "reorganization path," according to a release on its website today. Centrotherm had approximately 1,900 employees as of the end of 2011 and had 2011 revenue of approximately $850 million.

German photovoltaic panel manufacturers are faced with reduced feed-in tariffs, increased competition from China, and a global oversupply of solar modules. Solar manufacturing tool and production line vendors vendors like centrotherm are faced with the same massive and persistent solar overcapacity.

GTM Research forecasts 21 gigawatts of PV module manufacturing capacity to come offline by 2015 as the global market reconciles a dire supply-demand imbalance. GTM’s latest report, PV Technology, Production and Cost Outlook: 2012-2016, estimates module supply to be in excess of global demand by nearly 100 percent this year, or roughly 59 gigawatts of total supply compared to 30 gigawatts of total demand.

It's a dire situation for any equipment vendor.

Centrotherm joins Germany's Q-Cells, Soltecture, Odersun, Inventux, Solar Millennium, Solarhybrid, and Sovello in the group of the country's extremely troubled or shuttered PV firms. Q-Cells was Germany's -- and once the globe's -- largest solar manufacturer. It is now on the brink of bankruptcy.

As Shyam Mehta, GTM Senior Solar Analyst, has said, "'Consolidation' is a nice word that refers to a lot of ugly things.”


FIGURE: PV Manufacturing Capacity Retirements, 2010-2015E

Source: PV Technology, Production and Cost Outlook: 2012-2016