The listed Swiss machine manufacturer Meyer Burger Technology AG is building a new solar cell production facility in Thalheim in the district of Bitterfeld-Wolfen. To this end, the company is using most of the funds raised in a capital increase of 165 million Swiss francs (around 150 million euros). Production is scheduled to start as early as the second quarter of 2021 in the first expansion stage, initially with several hundred employees. The Saxony-Anhalt Ministry of Economy is supporting the construction of the new production site in so-called Solar Valley with 22.5 million euros (7.5 million euros in GRW investment funding and 15 million euros in environmental aid).
"The crisis in the solar industry more than ten years ago has long left its mark on Solar Valley. However, recent large-scale settlements such as Meyer Burger's solar cell plant or Farasis' battery factory impressively prove that the Bitterfeld industrial area has developed into a dynamic future location for high-growth industries," explained Minister for Economy Prof. Dr. Armin Willingmann on Friday. He added that this development was no coincidence. "In the past four years in particular, we have networked business and science more closely and made targeted investments in both areas. The availability of skilled workers and the opportunity to drive development projects forward in cooperation with scientific institutions is what makes Saxony-Anhalt such an attractive business location for national and international investors today and has had a significant influence on decisions to locate here."
"Solar Valley is a traditional and globally known solar location that offers all the conditions for a successful renaissance of the solar industry in Europe," emphasized Gunter Erfurt, CEO of Meyer Burger Technology AG. "Here we find not only optimal conditions for our new production technology, but above all people who are enthusiastic about renewable energies and have a very high level of expertise in solar cell production." According to the company, production of solar cells and solar modules with an annual volume of initially 0.4 gigawatts each is scheduled to start in the second quarter of 2021, and new employees are already being hired. Further processing of the solar cells into solar modules is to take place in Freiberg (Saxony), where Meyer Burger is currently building another site. The manufacturing capacity in Bitterfeld-Wolfen is to be expanded initially to 1.4 GW, then to 5 GW in 2026, subject to successful debt financing.
In the past four years, the Ministry of Economy has supported several major investments in the Bitterfeld-Wolfen district. In August 2020, the corrugated board manufacturer Progroup commissioned what the company claims is the world's most modern paper mill at a cost of €465 million after a construction period of just 18 months. Around 500 direct and indirect jobs are associated with the new factory construction. In September 2020, FEV Group opened what the company says is the world's largest independent battery testing facility at a cost of about 70 million euros, creating about 100 new jobs. In addition, the American-Chinese battery manufacturer Farasis Energy Europe announced plans to locate a battery competence center in addition to the planned battery plant in Solar Valley for 600 million euros. Farasis thus intends to create a total of around 2,000 new jobs in Bitterfeld-Wolfen.
"The settlements of recent years exemplify that we can increasingly develop Saxony-Anhalt into a state of future technologies," Willingmann explained. "It will be important to continue investing in business and science in a targeted manner in the coming years in order to perpetuate this encouraging development. Every euro invested in future technologies is well and effectively spent. Because with the new or expanded production sites, there are new, high-quality jobs, more added value and, in the end, higher tax revenues from which the state and municipalities benefit."