Meyer Burger prepares to shut down plant in Germany


Swiss PV manufacturer Meyer Burger has decided to discontinue solar module production in March in Freiberg, Germany, in a bid to stop sustained losses in Europe. The company will instead concentrate on building up its production facilities in the United States.

“As there has not yet been any decision on policy support measures to remediate current market distortions created by oversupply and dumping prices of solar modules, the group has decided to start preparations for the closure of its Freiberg site,” the company said on Friday.

The company said it expects significant cost savings from April. Sales activities in Europe will be unaffected and customers will receive full -product warranties for up to 30 years, it added.

Europe's solar manufacturers have urged the European Union to step in with emergency measures to protect them from insolvency. Earlier this month, the bloc finalized the Net Zero Industry Act, under which at least 40% of solar equipment deployed on the continent should be locally produced. However, thus far it has failed to introduce any emergency measures that would help to safeguard ailing businesses.

Meyer Burger said that it will seek shareholder approval for a rights issue of as much as CHF 250 million to finance the completion of its US manufacturing facilities in Colorado and Arizona.

“The rights issue is an attractive proposal to our investors as they can invest into the highly attractive US business where we are positioned to have the potential to grow a profitable business,” Meyer Burger CEO Gunter Erfurt said on Friday. “Furthermore, a clear focus on our US business makes us independent of political decisions in Europe.”

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Eventually, the company's goal is to close the funding gap of CHF 450 million with a combination of the rights issue, an export agency credit guarantee from the German government of up to $95 million, and either the “45X” advanced manufacturing production tax credit under the US Inflation Reduction Act, in the amount to $300 million, or a US Department of Energy loan.

Meyer Burger said it expects to use these potential sources of financing to complete its solar cell manufacturing facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and its solar module manufacturing site in Goodyear, Arizona. Both facilities are currently under construction, with a targeted production capacity of 2 GW each.

“Due to a lack of European protection against unfair competition from China, nearly four years of hard work by great employees in Europe is at risk,” said Sentis, which is Meyer Burger's largest shareholder with a 10.01% stake.

In reaction to Meyer Burger's announcement on Friday, SolarPower Europe Walburga Hemetsberger said that “this only underlines the absolute urgency with which policymakers should act. Are governments happy to leave our energy transition goals entirely in the hands of others?”

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