The solar company Meyer Burger has stopped production in Freiberg (Saxony). He blames the State, which has not fulfilled its promises of subsidies, for this. Since Meyer Burger, based in Baar, Switzerland, did not receive any promises of government support in Germany, the temporary stoppage in the factory halls became permanent. Until recently, the solar manufacturer had been betting on the so-called resilience bonus, a subsidy that aimed to protect the national industry from non-European competition.

Because there are many, not only in China: the United States also tempts with its delights. The Swiss are now heading there. Recently, Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner dashed his hopes: the resilience bonus will not arrive, despite previous announcements by Economy Minister Robert Habeck. This means that other companies in the solar sector in Germany are also at risk, as long as they have not already disappeared, such as well-known names of publicly traded solar energy companies.

Meyer Burger seeks salvation in the US

As for Meyer Burger, the group has long stood out with the production of special tools, such as sawing and cutting devices, for the chip industry and, later, for solar energy manufacturers. The move from specialist to photovoltaic group (the tools business was sold in 2019) could not reverse Meyer Burger's long period of losses, on the contrary. The stock has degenerated into a penny stock.

Now they seek salvation in the US, where conditions for the solar industry seem to be better for the moment. Thanks to subsidy legislation, but also lower energy prices. And then, of course, there's the speed of the approval process in Colorado: it took ten weeks in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to get everything ready for signing.

Both support programs such as President Joe Biden's Inflation Reduction Act and individual promises of state aid are attracting companies from around the world. Meyer Burger already produces in Arizona and now wants to start in Colorado, if financing is obtained. The group will transfer its machines and technologies from Saxony-Anhalt there. Joe Biden has already personally praised it as part of the planned solar value creation bulwark against China.

The company has long been a bearer of solar hope for Saxony

In Germany, the latest development, which is likely to claim more victims, has sparked disputes between the FDP and the Greens, especially in Saxony. The Free State would be especially affected, because after the bankruptcy of Solarworld in 2017, Meyer Burger was the new hope there since 2019. Saxony is, together with Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt, a center for industrial solar production; The industry in the eastern countries still had around 15,000 employees last year, with the corresponding impact on the fate of suppliers and other sectors of the economy. However, the boom, already largely fueled by subsidies, is coming to an end because, despite all the government aid, China's export power cannot be stopped.

Meanwhile, solar startups are booming in Germany. At the end of February, Blackrock invested in the newcomer Enviria with a capital of 200 million euros. The much-hyped Enpal has built a broader base and sells or even rents virtually everything to do with green energy in the broadest sense, from solar roofs to heat pumps and charging technology.

1Komma5Grad also wants to do smart work: use green energy supplies from German individuals to create a “smart grid” in which household electricity can be intelligently traded. These new companies include rapid growth and stock market plans; Nobody knows if the hype can continue and if the figures are correct.

According to the Dresden-based manufacturer Solarwatt, production in Germany and Europe is nevertheless economical. “But due to the conditions of unfair competition, the existence of the manufacturing industry in Germany and Europe is greatly threatened. And we are not talking about years, but months,” Solarwatt boss Detlef Neuhaus recently told Handelsblatt newspaper.

The wind industry is also quietly disappearing in Germany

Comparable development is taking place in the wind energy sector. Numerous medium-sized wind energy suppliers have closed over the past year. Once again, the eastern states are particularly affected. And what is clearly happening is what was already a familiar pattern in other areas of technology, known since the days of the fax machine and MP3 technology: invented here, manufactured faster and cheaper somewhere abroad. Companies also complain about seemingly endless approval times. Iqron, Zimm or Eickhoff in Saxony: barely known names, but their disappearance cost knowledge and jobs.

Of course, hardly comparable to giants like the Danish wind farm giant Orsted., a world leader in the construction of wind farms with subsidiaries in Germany. He is also very deep in the red. Due to out-of-control costs and supply chain problems, the Danish group canceled offshore projects in the US and Orsted suffered a loss equivalent to around €2.7 billion in the first nine months of 2023.

And also the German giant Siemens Energy It often makes a name for itself with ugly numbers and target adjustments. Big players in the wind industry have recently made a name for themselves by canceling large investments. The calculations were tight, and general inflation, as well as particular price increases for materials for offshore and onshore wind farms, made the calculations wasteful. Especially if fixed electricity supply prices had already been promised, which would never be possible given the costs.

The saviors of wind energy come, above all, from the oil business.

At the moment, only the often maligned oil giants are proving to be saviors in times of need. B.P. or Total Energies, but also Shell invest in wind & Co. They have a lot of staying power because they are still making a lot of money from their oil and gas business. German medium-sized companies, no matter how innovative they are, cannot overcome this situation.

Only Shell, together with local partners, has advanced the offshore market around the world in recent years. In Europe, these include major projects off the coasts of Norway, Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands.

Sonja Müller-Dib, CEO of Shell Energy Germany, is now also keeping an eye on the local market: “The conditions for the expansion of wind energy, and thus for a more secure and reliable energy supply, are good: Germany is one of the largest producers of offshore wind energy. energy in Europe. “Now it is important to constantly expand this base.”

The article “Fossil energy companies of all nations are now shaping the energy transition” comes from The European.