Meyer Burger to use former SolarWorld and Q-Cells plants for heterojunction module production
Meyer Burger has selected former solar panel manufacturing plants owned by defunct, SolarWorld and Q-Cells SE in Germany to kick-start its recently announced plans to become a dedicated heterojunction module manufacturer and stop being a supplier of solar panel manufacturing machine.
After site analysis and selection, Meyer Burger has acquired for an undisclosed sum from the former SolarWorld facilities in Freiberg, Saxony, which had at least 650MW of module assembly capacity and around 370MW of solar cell capacity. The facilities were also key to in-house wafer production at SolarWorld, having a nameplate capacity of 1GW and around 750MW of silicon ingot nameplate capacity.
However, Meyer Burger plans to initially use the facilities for heterojunction module assembly, including its SmartWire technology. The former SolarWorld module assembly plant was said to have an area of around 19,000 square metres and was chosen for its scale and it highly automated solar module production lines, which with further advancements had a potential nameplate capacity of 800MW.
The company is acquiring the 14,000 square metre logistics and distribution facilities at the former Solarworld site in Freiberg.
The second site is the former integrated ‘String Ribbon’ silicon PV module facilities of bankrupt Sovello, formerly owned by the original Q-Cells SE in the well known ‘Solar Valley’ region of Bitterfeld-Wolfen (Saxony-Anhalt). Solar Valley was home to a number of former Q-Cells SE subsidiaries including Solibro.
Meyer Burger noted that it would be renting the Sovello facilities for an undisclosed figure. Sovello had several small manufacturing facilities, equating to around 250MW of nameplate capacity.
However, the company noted that the former Sovello facilities covered and area of around 27,000 square metres but additional floor space could be rented for extending the manufacturing footprint, if needed. Meyer Burger plans to install its latest heterojunction solar cell production equipment at these facilities.
“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.”
The company reiterated recently announced plans that included the start of production in the first half of 2021 with solar cell and module assembly of 400MW per annum, subject to raising a total of CHF 165 million and gaining approval from creditors of bankrupt Solarworld Industries GmbH.