Former VW boss aims to set up 20 GW vertically integrated PV plant in Europe


From pv magazine Germany

Herbert Diess, the former CEO of German carmaker Volkswagen, unveiled a plan to build a vertically integrated PV module factory in Europe.

“I want to bring the photovoltaic industry back to Europe,” he said in a podcast with Gabor Steingart for The Pioneer. “Photovoltaics is competitive with coal and nuclear and will become even more popular through further scaling. Solar energy will soon be the dominant energy source.”

He called for greater independence from China for supplies of PV components. He noted that the once-thriving solar industry has almost completely disappeared from Europe. But he said the first reconstruction attempts are now underway – the new Meyer Burger plants in Germany are one example.

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“We were too impatient. Every industry has a ramp-up period, After all, China managed what Europe couldn't do,” said Diess. “We should bring solar back, as we can be competitive. After all, there is only one large research landscape, many installers and PV system providers, but small module manufacturers … I am currently in talks with several players in Europe, but also with Chinese companies.”

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The February edition of pv magazine, due out next week, is devoted entirely to energy storage, with topics ranging from how battery suppliers can avoid supply-chain related policy risks, to the plans Russia hatched to be a hydrogen superpower – before it invaded Ukraine.

Diess said there is a need for large manufacturers and also policy support. He said he aims to set up 20 GW of integrated PV production capacity. He estimates another plant is needed for polysilicon – two for wafers and ingots, and four for solar cells. A total of 15 to 20 factories would need to be built in order to achieve 20 GW at all stages of the value chain, said the former car manager. He estimates the investment required for this at €10 billion ($10.9 billion) to €20 billion.

“We need framework and market conditions that allow such investments,” said Diess.

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