State of Lower Saxony wants to get into the solar industry

State of Lower Saxony wants to get into the solar industry

Lower Saxony Economics Minister Olaf Lies wants to set up a production of solar systems with state participation in his federal state. “Our goal is to set up our own solar production capacities in Lower Saxony. We are currently examining that, ”said the SPD politician of the FAS

Marcus Theurer

Editor in the economy of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper.

The capacities would have to be in the gigawatt range for the project to make economic sense, he emphasized. The aim is to reduce the import dependency of Chinese solar module manufacturers.

“Strategic Participation”

The state government not only wants to advertise to companies for the construction of solar factories, but also to invest in companies itself. “I can well imagine an entrepreneurial commitment from the state as a minority shareholder. It is better to get involved strategically than just allocate funds for the settlement.”

He sees the country’s holdings in the Volkswagen car group and the steel manufacturer Salzgitter as role models. Lower Saxony has had “good experiences” with these company investments, said Lies. Above all, the strong political influence at Volkswagen has been controversial for many years.

Economics Minister Lies wants to set up a production facility for assembling solar modules in his state as a first step. Later, the production of the solar cells themselves, as well as important components, so-called wafers, should follow.

Wind energy as a location advantage

Lies sees the extensive generation of wind power in Lower Saxony as an important location advantage. “We not only want to generate renewable electricity, but also have the climate-neutral industrial added value that is based on it in our country,” he emphasized. “Solar module production is a great opportunity for this.”

The federal government wants to accelerate the expansion of solar power generation in Germany. By 2030, the installed capacity is to increase by 22 gigawatts a year to a total of 215 gigawatts. There are also high expansion targets in Lower Saxony. However, most of the solar modules required for this have so far been made in China, which is considered risky in view of the growing geopolitical tensions between the West and the Asian economic powerhouse.

Europe is concerned that the Chinese government is currently examining the export of important technologies for the solar industry to restrict. Experts warn that a possible ban on China’s exports of solar equipment could slow down the energy transition in Europe. “We are almost completely dependent on one country, China. That’s too risky for me,” says Lower Saxony’s Economics Minister Lies.

Germany has had its own solar module industry in the past. However, the companies were largely pushed out by competition from Asia. The German manufacturer Solarworld, at times a leader in the industry, filed for bankruptcy in 2016. The Swiss manufacturer Meyer Burger, on the other hand, is now running a solar production facility in Saxony again.

The Federal Ministry of Economics in Berlin and the EU Commission in Brussels are also working on a comeback for the domestic solar industry. This week, Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck announced stronger state support for manufacturers of solar modules and wind turbines. “We have to strengthen the production capacities for renewable energies and power grids in Germany and Europe,” said Habeck.

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