02 Feb 2023, 13:08
Benjamin Wehrmann

U.S. company’s plans for chip factory in Germany welcome as booster to EV industry

Clean Energy Wire

The announcement of a new microchip factory of U.S. semiconductor producer Wolfspeed with an investment by German automotive industry supplier ZF has been welcome by chancellor Olaf Scholz as an important step in readying the country’s car industry for the transition towards electric vehicles. The chip factory in the western state of Saarland, which will be built on the site of a former coal plant, “showcases Germany’s competitiveness, increases the resilience of our industry and represents successful economic transformation,” Scholz said at a visit to the future construction site. The chip factory will be supported through funding from the EU’s Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) programme. “The planned investment is one of the largest in Saarland’s history,” said Robert Habeck, the federal minister for economy and climate, who also visited the site in Ensdorf near Saarbrücken. Habeck argued that the project would bring benefits beyond Saarland’s borders. “We need the most modern chips and innovative conductor electronics to build out more renewable energy and e-mobility,” he added. Saarland’s state premier Anke Rehlinger said the chip factory will create up to 1,000 jobs in the region and likely lure other investors in the automotive industry to the former coal mining region. “Such a high-tech investment makes Saarland one of the most attractive locations for electric mobility,” Rehlinger said. Holger Klein, CEO at ZF, said the factory would bolster the resilience of Europe’s semiconductor supply, and, at the same time, support the European Green Deal and the strategic digital industry goals for Europe.

The German government has set aside billions of euros to support IPCEI projects. While the EU is yet to greenlight the investment in the region bordering France, work at the site is ready to start already this year, according to Wolfspeed. A prerequisite for IPCEI support is an alignment with strategic goals of the EU, the involvement of several European states and expected spill-over effects on the internal market.

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