Swiss solar manufacturer Meyer Burger hit its 321MW production volume target last year, and its expansion to the gigawatt scale is already underway, having recently signed two additional purchase agreements with major customers. It has also applied for hundreds of millions in financial support from the EU Innovation Fund, and the final decision will be made in the summer.
Meyer Burger is steadily increasing cell and module production at its factory in Bitterfeld-Wolfen, Germany. Last year, it reached its production volume target of 321.1 MW according to the recently published annual report 2022. It is said to produce 830,000 solar modules and 700,000 solar cells per day.
After the production ramp-up is completed, its capacity will increase to more than a million solar cells per day, according to Meyer Burger. The second production line started operating in September.
“There is increasing confidence that the production lines at our German sites will be able to reach the specified nominal capacity when fully operational,” said Meyer Burger.
However, the manufacturer is also plagued by concerns, especially regarding the delivery times of electronic components. At least in theory, it is well on its way to becoming a gigawatt manufacturer. This year, the production capacity will be expanded to 1.4 GW per year. By the end of 2024, it should reach 3 GW. And the manufacturer has decided to scale its planned module production in the US from 1.6 GW to about 2 GW. The increase in production of around 25% is primarily due to the ramp-up of production of glass-glass modules.
Expansion requires capital above all else, and Meyer Burger is trying to raise as many sources as possible. According to the company, the necessary expansion of Thalheim’s cell capacity requires “significant investments in new systems”. For this purpose, the manufacturer has concluded new purchase agreements for the additional production volume of 2025 with two undisclosed “well-known” companies.
The purchase guarantee is valid for several years, and according to Meyer Burger, the contracts have been made in the same way as the purchase contract previously made with the US project developer Desri. Investments in new systems are largely covered by corresponding advance payments from customers.
In March, Meyer Burger has also submitted an application to the EU Innovation Fund’s third call for proposals. The company hopes to receive three-digit million financing to support the development of gigawatt-scale production of solar cells and modules in several European countries. A decision is expected in the summer of 2023.
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In addition, the Green Deal industrial plan recently published by the European Commission gives reason for further hopes. EU countries are expected to adopt it in the second quarter of this year, which could have a positive impact on Meyer Burger’s business in Europe. Given the generous support of US industrial policy through the US Inflation Restraint Act (IRA), Europe must quickly follow suit.
In addition to the current situation and future plans, Meyer Burger’s annual report also includes the past year’s financial figures. The company’s sales rose from 39.9 million Swiss francs ($43.56 million) to 147.2 million Swiss francs within a year. According to it, sales of 250 MW heterojunction modules were 125 million Swiss francs. The company announced a 2022 net result of -69.9 million Swiss francs, reducing the loss by about a third compared to last year.
Meyer Burger currently sells its modules in 15 countries at “attractive retail prices,” according to the company. The manufacturer’s strongest markets are currently Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and Italy. Australia and Great Britain are planned to be added as new sales markets this year. Distribution takes place through approximately 50 wholesalers and over a thousand registered installers.