Meyer Burger to build 2GW solar cell plant in Colorado, delays Talheim plant extension

Equipment initially intended for the Talheim, Germany, solar cell plant expansion will be redirected towards the Colorado plant. Image: Meyer Burger.

Switzerland-headquartered module manufacturer Meyer Burger plans to build a solar cell plant in Colorado, the US, with an initial annual capacity of 2GW.

The plant in Colorado will exclusively supply its cell capacity to the company’s US module assembly plant in Goodyear, Arizona which will have its annual capacity increased to 2GW after securing several heterojunction (HJT) supply agreements.

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The PV manufacturer continues its expansion in the US after securing several module offtake agreements in the past few months from DESRI for 5GW of module capacity to be supplied between 2024 and 2029, Ingka Investments – IKEA’s largest franchisee – for an undisclosed amount of HJT capacity and BayWa r.e. for 1.25GW of HJT modules to be distributed between 2025 and 2029 in the US.

“Meyer Burger is currently working on additional multi-gigawatt offtake agreements in the US with new customers. We are already exploring opportunities to add further solar cell and module production capacity in the country,” said Gunter Erfurt, CEO of Meyer Burger.

Benefits from the Inflation Reduction Act – more specifically from the Advanced Manufacturing Tax Credit 45X – are planned to be used to support the financing of the solar cell plant and correspond to a potentially cumulated eligible sum of up to US$1.4 billion that can be monetised from the start of production 2024 – which Meyer Burger expects to begin during the fourth quarter of 2024 for its solar cell plant – up until the end of 2032.

The accelerated scheduling to have the 2GW solar cell plant ready in Q4 2024 is due to the company redirecting equipment initially intended for the expansion of Meyer Burger’s solar cell plant in Germany to instead be installed in the Colorado Springs cell plant.

Expansion of the Talheim plant in Germany is planned for a later date after the company secured €200 million (US$222 million) from the European Commission’s Innovation Fund earlier this month. Moreover, the manufacturer aims to participate in Germany’s recent expression of interest call to seek 10GW of domestic PV manufacturing.

On top of that, Meyer Burger will receive a US$90 million financing package from the city of Colorado Springs, where the solar cell plant will be located, as well as from the state of Colorado, while it anticipates US$300 million to be secured from pre-payments of module offtake and a loan from the Department of Energy.

“Meyer Burger strongly believes that domestically manufactured solar cells will bring additional value to our customers, both in relation to using best-in-class high performance solar products ‘Made in USA’ and in terms of qualifying for additional tax credits,” added Erfurt.

Chinese oversupply results in H1 EBITDA loss

Regarding trading and financial results for the first half of 2023, Meyer Burger said it achieved a production volume of 300MW in the period. Due to price pressure caused by primarily Chinese oversupply to the markets, especially in the currently non-regulated market of the European Union, the company made an EBITDA loss of CHF42 million (US$48.6 million). Furthermore, the company expects a challenging market situation for the second half of 2023 and is suspending giving EBITDA guidance for 2023 because of continued difficult market predictability.

The full H1 report will be published on 17 August, according to the company.

The company also announced the departure of its chief commercial officer, Moritz Borgmann, for personal reasons. It said Borgmann played a key role in the company’s transformation from an equipment manufacturer to a producer of solar cells and modules, starting as a consultant in 2020 before entering as a managing director of Meyer Burger (Industries) GmbH at the beginning of 2021 and then becoming CCO of Meyer Burger Group.

Daniel Menzel, chief operating officer at Meyer Burger, will take on the responsibilities of Meyer Burger Americas’ sales and business development as well as set up the operations in the Colorado solar cell plant and the Arizona module assembly plant.

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