01 Feb 2023, 13:40
Benjamin Wehrmann

Solar PV production must return to Europe to avoid future dependence – Swiss company CEO

Die Welt

As solar power deployment is picking up fast around the globe, Germany and Europe must act now to regain a stronger position in the production of solar PV hardware so as to reduce reliance on China in energy security, and to profit financially from the rapidly growing market, Gunter Erfurt, CEO of Swiss solar power company Meyer Burger, wrote in a commentary in newspaper Die Welt. “More than 90 percent of solar power modules today come from Asia, and especially from China. For intermediary goods like solar silicon, wafers and solar cells, the dependence is near 100 percent,” Erfurt said, arguing that this dominance was the result of far-sighted industrial planning by China’s government.

Germany plans to triple its solar power capacity by 2030 and the technology is also booming in other European countries. Currently this means that reducing dependence on Russia’s fossil fuels could be replaced with a new dependence on Chinese solar PV technology, the CEO warned. “This does not have to happen,” Erfurt said, adding that Meyer Burger plans to greatly expand its production capacity in Germany, eying to increase output more than 20 times by 2027. “This is about one of the most important technologies of the future, which will also deliver everything Europe needs today: cheap energy, climate action, strategic security, long-term growth, export products, jobs,” he said, adding that Germany still maintained a top spot in solar PV research which should be used as an edge to regain a strong position in the industry.

The EU should quickly introduce a similar scheme to the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which would incentivise more investment in European solar power production capacity, alongside to its efforts in green hydrogen production, Erfurt argued. The IRA had also drawn investments from Meyer Burger to the U.S., the CEO added, calling on EU governments to come up with an attractive response to the act soon.

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