Meyer Burger picks solar cell and panel factory sites in Saxony

Meyer Burger picks solar cell and panel factory sites in Saxony

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Swiss solar cell equipment developer turned manufacturer Meyer Burger has selected two sites in Saxony, Germany, to start production and distribution of solar cell modules and panels.

It is to buy and rent three sites in Bitterfeld-Wolfen (Saxony-Anhalt) and Freiberg (Saxony) that are already set up for production following the collapse of module makers Sovello in 2012 and Solarworld Industries last year.

Production will start in the first half of 2021 with 400 MW solar cells and 400 MW solar modules, expansion to 5GW says the company.

“We are looking forward to revitalising two of the most traditional solar locations in Europe and creating new jobs,” said Gunter Erfurt, CEO of Meyer Burger. “The fact that we are able to use existing infrastructures and the high level of expertise in the regions is a conscious strategic decision that will enable us to achieve short ramp-up times and high product quality”.

In Bitterfeld-Wolfen, Meyer Burger will rent buildings of the former solar cell manufacturer Sovello (which started as EverQ) on a long-term basis. Sovello went into administration in 2012 and the plant currently covers 27,000 square metres. Additional space can be rented for extensions if required. Meyer Burger will install its production equipment there to make the cells using its proprietary heterojunction technology.

The high-efficiency cells will be further processed into SmartWire modules at a plant in Freiberg, 150km away. The plant was previously owned by SolarWold Industries after taking over the solar panel production of Bosch. Chinese battery maker CATL is building a gigafactory at another former SolarWorld site in Thuringia with financial support from the local government.

“With Meyer Burger, there is once again a supplier of technologically leading solar cells Made in Europe,” said Gunter Erfurt. “Almost all solar modules manufactured in Europe today contain cells that come from Asia.”

The 19,000 square metres site has an annual nominal capacity of more than 600 MW, which can be increased to more than 800 MW with new technologies.

Next: Solar cell and panel logistics site in Freiberg

Meyer Burger is also acquiring the logistics and distribution centre at the former Solarworld site in Freiberg. The 14,000 square metre site will provide the infrastructure for distribution, one of the key capabilities the company needed to add to sell to installers. This follows negotiations with Solarword’s insolvency administrator, Christoph Niering.

Production in the first half of 2021 will be 400 MW per year in solar cell production and 400 MW in module production. Further expansion is then planned up to 5 GW.

Shareholders today agreed a plan to raise CHF165m ($165m) for the deal and transaction is expected to be completed by the end of July. The creditors’ meeting of Solarworld Industries also still has to approve the purchase of the Freiberg sites.

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