While Germany reduces support for its solar industry, which it has subsidised for years, Italy and France are increasing theirs, as Europe fights back against Chinese competition.
In the face of Chinese competition, this week alone has seen two solar power giants dramatically restructure their operations: SunPower and First Solar.
On Monday, SunPower, based in California, announced it was closing a 125 MW capacity manufacturing plant in the Philippines, to amalgamate with another Philippines-based plant with 575 MW capacity. It is retaining its 600 MW plant in Malaysia
Mid April the world's largest CdTe (Cadmium telluride) thin-film PV module manufacturer, First Solar, announced an even more dramatic development.
It is to lay off 2,000 workers, 30% of its workforce, closing a manufacturing facility in Germany and laying idle 24 production lines in its huge factory in Kulim, Malaysia from 1 May. This is expected to save $30-$60 million this year and $100-$120 million annually subsequently.
The end result of First Solar's restructuring will be even cheaper solar power, it hopes. Average manufacturing costs are expected to improve to $0.70-$0.72 per watt in 2012. The following year, costs are expected to reduce even further to $0.60 to $0.64 per watt.