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Tech & Science Swiss company wants to bring EU solar industry back to life

13:37  11 august  2020
13:37  11 august  2020 Source:   dw.com

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Latest in: EU policy. On the roof of a waste incinerator outside Zurich, the Swiss firm Climeworks has built the world’ s first commercial plant to With a backdrop of green farmland and solar -clad barns, the plant is also a stone’ s throw from the Gebrüder Maier fruit and vegetable company , which uses the

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(Bloomberg) - A Swiss company buys cheap solar assets in order to recapture an important link in the European supply chain for renewable energies from China.

Meyer Burger Technology AG plans to resume module production in the German "Solar Valley" south of Berlin from next year in order to meet the growing demand of the European Union for green energy. In the last ten years, EU producers have been displaced by Chinese panel manufacturers who now dominate the world market.

"I find it problematic that the world is leaving the production of solar modules to China," said Meyer Burger Chief Executive Officer Gunter Erfurt in a Bloomberg interview.

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The company bought the shares and patents of the insolvent German Solarworld AG and rented a factory south of Berlin to build the solar modules. Meyer Burger raised 165 million Swiss francs (153 million euros) to revitalize production, with the potential output by the middle of the decade could cover almost a third of the annual demand for new European panels.

Meyer-Burger, which is based outside of Bern, only paid 12 million euros for the assets of Solarworld, a company that reached a top market value of around 4.6 billion euros in 2007. Erfurt grew up in the neighboring mining region on the German border with the Czech Republic and was previously the managing director of the insolvent panel manufacturer.

Meyer-Burger will endeavor to reduce the Chinese lead, but to stay one step ahead in terms of technological superiority, said Erfurt. According to him, qualified engineers are now cheaper in East Germany than in Shanghai. The Swiss company could also benefit from EU regulators that last month renewed tariffs of up to 75% on solar glass from China.

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Soaring European Solar © Bloomberg Soaring European Solar

A study commissioned by Meyer-Burger in 2019 and carried out by the independent Fraunhofer Institute indicated that the company's future panels could be three years ahead of the competition and possibly more energy per square meter than similar technologies.

Nevertheless, Meyer-Burger's plan is ambitious, says Jenny Chase, Head of Solar Analysis at BloombergNEF.

"Solar manufacturing is an incredibly difficult business to make money, and retrofitting old factories has not always been as easy as companies hoped it will be," she said. Chinese mono modules currently cost 19 US cents per watt, so Meyer Burger's products would still have to be “very, very cheap,” says Chase.

Heading of the article in the original:

Swiss Investor Takes on China in Bid to Reboot EU Solar Industry

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