French start-up aims to set up 5GW PV module factory


From pv magazine France

French start-up Carbon has announced plans to build a 5 GW solar panel factory in France.

Expected to be commissioned in 2025, the new factory is to reach an annual capacity of 15 GW by 2030. The project will require a total investment of €1 billion. For this purpose, Carbon and its partners are currently looking for investors to finance the project. “We are going to carry out the first funding round at the end of the year, representing 10% of the amount of the investment,” Pascal Richard, former founder of SMA France and Carbon co-founder told pv magazine. “Then, we will hold more rounds that will be open to three levels of investors: industrial strategic partners, private investment funds and regional, national and European public entities.”

The company hopes to bring into operation a pilot site with 1.5 GW of annual capacity in 2024. The panels will be based on TOPCon and IBC technologies. “The production lines will be designed to be scalable and to integrate the different technologies without reinvestment,” Richard explained.

Ultimately, the manufacturing facility will also supply the building and automotive markets with high-efficiency building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) cells.

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In terms of costs, Richard assured that “everything is calculated so that the products, although of high-quality, are competitive with the prices charged by Asian competition,” in particular thanks to economies of scale. “Without competitive prices, it is impossible to attract investments,” he added. The company intends to announce soon the official support of its first French and European investors.

According to some forecasts, Europe's currently installed solar PV capacity of 199 GW is expected to double by 2025, then quadruple by 2030. “The demand for photovoltaic panels will therefore continue to increase massively, reaching around 60 GW per year in 2025 then 100 GW per year in 2030 on a European scale. However, in the face of Asian competition, which is driving prices down, the European photovoltaic industrial sector remains fragile and undersized. It is therefore urgent to act to change scale,” Carbon said in a press release.

A project with a European dimension, Carbon is supported by the international research center on solar energy ISC Konstanz in Germany, recognized European developer of TOPCon and IBC technologies, as well as the Becquerel Institute in Belgium, with which it collaborates on technological, competitiveness and market access aspects.

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