Frank Asbeck

The Sun King Shines

Solar Getty images
Europe is losing out to Asia in the global solar market.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Solarworld needs to grow sales and become profitable again if it wants to survive competition with low-cost Chinese rivals.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Solarworld benefited from Germany’s shift to renewable energy up to 2012, but almost went bankrupt in 2013.
    • The European Commission implemented minimum prices to regulate cheap exports from China.
    • Solarworld, whose rivals include Trina Solar, Yingli and Canadian Solar, has expanded in the United States.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

It’s raining. Frank Asbeck is not in the best of moods. You can’t see the famous view from his office in Bonn, a glass palace on the Rhine.

But the 56-year-old wouldn’t be the “Sun King” if he didn’t turn the bad weather into an opportunity for a little self-promotion and a jab at the government in Berlin.

“Most politicians still believe that if there’s no sun you don’t generate power,” Mr. Asbeck said, explaining how solar modules actually generate a similar amount of electricity on days when there’s little sun.

Mr. Asbeck, a passionate hunter who drives a Maserati and owns a castle, made a name for himself in 2013 when he brought in Qatari investors to save his firm and successfully lobbied for import duties and minimum prices in the United States and Europe.

 

Handelsblatt: Mr. Asbeck, have you dug the grave of the German solar industry?

Mr. Asbeck: You’ve thought up a nice fairy tale there – from sun king to grave digger. How do you come up with this nonsense?

You helped implement custom duties and minimum prices on Chinese solar panels. That was good for your own business, but it has strangled the broader boom in the solar industry.

Wrong! Dumping [exporting goods at a price lower than their normal value] is the reason why the German market has shrunk to less than a quarter of its previous size.

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