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Swiss solar firm looks to revive Germany’s ‘Solar Valley’

A Swiss solar energy company is looking to revive eastern Germany’s “Solar Valley”, write Barbara Achermann and Martin Nejezchleba in Zeit Schweiz. The solar park, covering 160 hectares in the federal state Saxony-Anhalt, was once one of Europe’s largest solar facilities and employed nearly 3,000 people in its prime in the early 2000s. But the area has since been hit by strong competition from Asia, in particular China, and has languished in recent years. Swiss company Meyer Burger Technology approved a capital increase of 165 million Swiss Franks last month and plans to invest the money in new facilities in eastern Germany, the authors write. The company has said it plans to also build solar cells and modules in the region. Production is expected to start in spring 2021, aiming to create a few hundred jobs by the end of that year and as many as 3,000 jobs over the next  six years. Meyer Burger too has struggled with the collapse of Europe’s solar industry and currently employs around 800 people, down from 2,800 at the peak of its success, while sales have plummeted too, the report notes.

Solar power is a major element of Germany’s energy transition process, but competition from Asia has dealt the sector a major blow over the years. But solar firms have said they are hopeful that the EU’s Green Deal, environmental incentives and structural changes after the coronavirus pandemic will give them renewed momentum.

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