German module manufacturer Solarwatt to close 300MW production plant in August

Solarwatt's manufacturing plant in Dresden
The manufacturing plant has a production capacity of 300MW. Image: Solarwatt

German PV module manufacturer Solarwatt has reportedly decided to close its 300MW manufacturing plant in Germany. 

According to German newspaper Handelsblatt, Solarwatt will close its 300MW module manufacturing plant in Dresden. The company’s CEO, Detlef Neuhaus, said operating production in Germany was extremely difficult economically, adding that the company is “letting a future technology that is so strategically important go down the drain for the second time.”

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The manufacturing plant opened in 2021. Employees of the manufacturing plant were notified on Monday (29 April), and a total of 190 jobs could be affected. 

Recently, Germany’s national parliament, the Bundestag, discussed the proposed ‘Solarpaket I’ reforms to the country’s solar sector, but offered no official measures to support German solar PV manufacturers. The Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft (BSW), the country’s solar trade body, said: “The solar industry is particularly disappointed that the coalition has not reached an agreement on industrial policy stimuli, such as resilience bonuses within the reform package.”

It suggested that German module manufacturing could have been supported through financial incentives to buy domestically-made products, to make German-made modules attractive compared to those made elsewhere.

“In the tough location competition with Asia and the US for the solar factories of the future, the last chance for a renaissance of the solar industry in Germany and for more security in the supply of solar technology components has been squandered,” added the BSW.

Growing concerns for European manufacturing

Solarwatt’s decision came after PV manufacturer Meyer Burger’s announcement, in January 2024, to close its module assembly plant in Germany.

At a solar industry event in London, Solar Media’s head of research Finlay Colville said that some of the lowest global module pricing is currently in Europe, largely following a significant oversupply of modules from China into the continent last year. Europe was sitting on between 70-85GW of surplus modules in 2023, and many of these were pushed to European ports by the restrictive trade conditions in the US.

Although the EU approved the Net-Zero Industry Act (NZIA) to back clean energy production in April, the European Solar Manufacturing Council (ESMC) noted that provisions of the NZIA would only come into effect in 2026 and to a limited part of the European PV market.

The act features non-price sustainability and resilience criteria to be applied in public procurement procedures and auctions to deploy renewable energy. Under this requirement, a minimum of 30%, and a maximum of 6GW, of the volume auctioned annually in member states must meet these criteria.

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