Business One billion for East German solar industry

One billion for East German solar industry

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Dhe Swiss solar technology supplier Meyer Burger Technology Ltd wants to invest on a large scale in East Germany. The company plans to set up solar cell and module production facilities in Bitterfeld-Wolfen (Saxony-Anhalt) and Freiberg (Saxony). With investments of more than one billion euros, capacities are to be increased from initially 800 megawatts annually to 5 gigawatts by 2026. This would create up to 3000 jobs, says the company, which currently only has 730 employees.

“We are very much looking forward to reviving two of the most traditional solar locations in Europe,” said CEO Gunter Erfurt. The Swiss want the buildings and systems of the former solar cell manufacturers Sovello and Solarworld benefit that slipped into bankruptcy years ago. From the bankruptcy estate of Solarworld they also acquire a 14,000 square meter logistics and distribution center in Freiberg, provided that the creditors’ meeting of Solarworld Industries GmbH gives its place.

However, Meyer Burger itself is not bedded on roses. The group, which once achieved sales in the billions, but only had a turnover of CHF 262 million in 2019, has been making substantial losses for years. The share price is on the floor. The investment offensive in East Germany is the result of an unusual change in strategy: So far, the company has manufactured plants for the production of solar modules from Thun. From then on, however, it plans to manufacture these modules itself. The company is therefore competing with its previous customers.

The board wants to get the money for the expensive change of course through a capital increase in the amount of 165 million francs, which the suffering shareholders will vote on this Friday in an extraordinary meeting. A two-thirds majority of the votes is required. The funds are to be sufficient for the first stage of development in Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, where production will begin in the first half of 2021. For the second expansion phase, the board wants to take out loans of CHF 180 million.

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