Investments Drive Growth of German Solar Photovoltaic Industry

First Solar is even doubling its production capacity in the country. These developments underscore the industry’s strength and add a vote of confidence for future market growth.

First Solar’s announcement marks the largest foreign investment in Germany’s renewable energies industry this year.

US-based First Solar, the world’s largest manufacturer of thin film solar modules, announced yesterday an investment of over USD 200 million in its facility in Frankfurt (Oder) in Eastern Germany. The investment will make it the largest thin-film plant in Europe and boost annual production capacity to 446 MW.

Creating several hundred jobs, the new investment serves to meet ongoing demand increases in Germany and across Europe. For its contribution to economic development the investment has drawn incentives from the federal and regional governments amounting to approximately EUR 30 million. Germany Trade & Invest supported First Solar with its initial investment in Germany.

First Solar CEO Robert Gillette confirms Germany’s attractiveness as a production location: "Our plant in Frankfurt is already one of the most efficient worldwide, and there are numerous well trained workers in the region."

This week France-based Saint-Gobain subsidiary Avancis announced its investment in a new plant in the Eastern German city of Torgau. The new facility will be Avancis’ second German plant manufacturing thin-film CIGS

(Copper-Indium-Gallium-Selenide) photovoltaic panels. It will be built close to the first Avancis industrial site. The new plant will have an annual production output of 100 MW. With a surface area of 25,000msquared, the site should come on stream by the first quarter of 2012.

German Solar Companies Investing As Well

German-based solar companies SolarWorld and Juwi have also announced new investments in Germany recently. SolarWorld, one of the largest fully integrated producers in the solar industry reported this week a EUR 350 million investment in a new production plant in the eastern German city of Freiberg. This facility will increase SolarWorld’s solar wafer production capacity to 750 MW by the end of the year and is a testament to Eastern Germany’s photovoltaic cluster, the largest in the world.

At the same time, Juwi is investing in a new facility in Brandis, a German town near Leipzig, which will employ up to 80 new workers. The company is one of the world’s largest in planning, constructing and operating renewable energy projects in the solar, wind and bioenergy segments.

Installations in Germany amounted to 3.8 GWp in 2009, accounted for more than half of all new installations worldwide. Germany is again the world’s largest PV market and continues to be an attractive investment location for PV companies. Manufacturers in Germany not only have access to a large and growing market, they also benefit from a significant competitive advantage through a local brand presence and reputation for high quality products. Germany’s solar industry also benefits from the highest density of R&D institutes in the industry. At the same time, the country boasts a well established industrial infrastructure, large equipment supplier base, and qualified and experienced workforce.

Germany Trade & Invest is the foreign trade and inward investment promotion agency of the Federal Republic of Germany. The organization advises foreign companies looking to expand their business activities in the German market. It provides information on foreign trade to German companies that seek to enter foreign markets.