Creditors of Q-Cells agreed on Wednesday to hand over ownership to Hanwha of South Korea with the loss of a further 200 jobs. One of its local German rivals, Solon, which was also in severe financial difficulties, was bought earlier this year by Indian firm Microsol.
European renewable energy companies have fallen on hard times due to the credit crunch, low-cost far east competition and increasing political uncertainty about subsidy levels in the west.
Vestas, the world's largest wind turbine maker, which is headquartered in Denmark, admitted earlier this week that it was in talks about a strategic partnership with Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
Last week the chairman of Vestas, which has sacked large parts of its board and management team, said he was looking at selling off a 20% stake in the wind supply group to an outside investor. Vestas has recently completed the sale of its wind turbine tower factory at Varde in Denmark to China's, Titan Wind Energy.
The Q-Cells sale still needs the agreement of the European competition authorities but industry experts said they did not expect opposition for the takeover, which should preserve a solar cell and solar module research base at Bitterfeld-Wolfen plus its administration site in Berlin. The latter location will bear the brunt of the redundancies.
Insolvency administrator Henning Schorisch said he regretted the job losses but added: "I am very happy that Q-Cells has found a strong partner in Hanwha, who has the necessary means to provide company, brand and staff with long-term perspectives again."
Hanwha, one of the largest South Korean corporations with sales of $31.6bn (£19.9bn) in 2011, said it planned to use the takeover of Q-Cells to expand its position as one of the leading players in the global photovoltaic industry.
Q-Cells filed for insolvency in April of this year after months of desperately trying to restructure the business. Q-Cells was one of the world's largest makers of photovoltaic cells but had been hit by severe competition from cheaper Chinese manufacturers plus a series of cuts in German solar power subsidies.
Fellow equipment maker Solon and Solar Millennium filed for creditor protection as did Solarhybrid, a company that built solar power arrays. Britain has produced relatively few substantial renewable energy companies within the wind sector The UK charge into renewables has been largely reliant on foreign suppliers such as Vestas, Siemens of Germany and Gamesa of Spain. Many of the wind farm developers in Britain – big utilities – are owned abroad with the exception of Centrica and SSE.