About us

about us

PV Crystalox Solar is a long established supplier to the global PV industry now also providing slicing services for the high technology ceramics and optics industries in Germany.

Extremely challenging PV market conditions have persisted since 2011 when overcapacity primarily in China caused a collapse in pricing across the value chain. This difficult environment led initially to the shutdown of Group’s United Kingdom production and mass redundancies in 2017 and eventually necessitated the Group’s exit from PV manufacturing. Major restructuring followed in Germany during 2018 and the closure of the United Kingdom facilities was finally completed in that year. Following an extensive review of the strategic options for the future of the Group, the Board advised in March 2019 that returning a large proportion of available cash, as part of an orderly resolution of the Group’s affairs, would be in the best interest of shareholders. A capital return of €43.4 million (£38.5 million, which was the maximum under a capital reorganisation) was duly completed in June 2019 following approval at a General Meeting held in May. In parallel, the Board concluded the transformation of the manufacturing operation in Germany would be preferable to closure and ultimately offers the potential for a favourable outcome for all stakeholders through a sale to a third party or a transfer of the business to the existing management team.

As part of the programme to transform the business in Germany, one of the two production buildings was vacated at the end of 2019 and the operational facilities downsized and consolidated into the remaining building. Some silicon wafering capabilities have been retained as limited contract wafering is periodically carried out for a PV customer in Germany. The funded PV related research and development activities for which grants of €0.4 million were received in 2019 are continuing.

With around 20 employees now remaining in Germany we are applying our wire sawing expertise to the cutting and slicing of a variety of materials other than silicon and focusing on the requirements of the optical, medical and semiconductor industries in Germany. Successful trials have been carried out in the cutting of glass, fused silica, alumina and other ceramics and have demonstrated the benefits of wire sawing in improved cutting yields. While some of these customer relationships have already been consolidated into regular contracting business, the overall financial performance has been below expectations. Progress has been hampered to some extent by the global slowdown in the notoriously cyclical semiconductor industry which in 2019 suffered its worst downturn in almost two decades. The World Semiconductor Trade Statistics organisation projects growth of 5.9% in 2020 but ongoing US-China trade tensions and the recent Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak pose a threat to any recovery.

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