Just three years after Germany’s once high-flying solar manufacturer SolarWorld was forced into bankruptcy due to falling industry prices and seemingly unbeatable competition from China, production lines are back up and running again at the company’s former sites. That’s all thanks to major new investment from Swiss solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturer Meyer Burger.
“We lost manufacturing some years ago and now we are bringing it back,” said Meyer Burger CEO Gunter Erfurt at the reopening of the Freiberg plant in the eastern German regional state of Saxony in May. “The timing could not be better.” A second plant will revive manufacturing in Bitterfeld-Wolfen, Saxony-Anhalt. Improvements in performance and production costs of Meyer Burger’s technology have made European production more competitive.
Experts predict the future belongs to solar because it’s one of the cheapest and most plentiful sources of power and one of the most climate-friendly. The resurgence of solar power in Germany is evidenced by the figures for annually installed PV capacity, which reached nearly 5 gigawatts (GW) last year – the highest level since 2012. Those numbers are set to increase considerably in the coming years due to Germany’s transition to clean energy (Energiewende).