BP closing solar unit, leaving industry after 40 years, citing economy's impact on solar industry as deterrents to long-term profits; unit to shutter over the course of next few months, shed 100 jobs

LOS ANGELES , December 20, 2011 () – After 40 years, BP has announced that it will close it solar power unit, exiting the solar power industry completely, due to lack of profitability, Bloomberg reported Dec. 20.

Mike Petrucci, CEO of the solar unit, said in an internal company letter that the effects of the global economy on the industry had made it tough to maintain profitability over the long haul. The shut down will occur over the course of a few months and will impact 100 positions.

BP’s exit from the industry follows the bankruptcy of California solar panel maker Solyndra and German company Solon. All are attributable to an increased Asian manufacturing presence that has pushed down panel prices and created an excess of supply on the market worldwide.

BP had already halted manufacturing in Spain in 2009, laying off 480 positions. In July, the company said it would redirect its efforts to big projects only. Company spokesman Robert Wine said the company no longer has manufacturing plants.

BP will sell its ownership of solar projects partnered with Italy, Spain, Germany and Britain totaling 158 MW. The company’s wind and biofuels divisions will remain intact.

The primary source of this article is Bloomberg Businessweek, London, England, Dec. 20, 2011.

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