Germany's single largest solar cell manufacturer is considering an exit from the country amid the country's ongoing energy crisis. (EPA-EFE/CLEMENS BILAN)


Largest solar-cell firm in Germany may decamp to US over energy costs

Meyer Burger Technology, a Swiss firm, said the decision on whether to pull its manufacturing out of Germany or not will be made “within weeks”


The largest solar-cell manufacturer in Germany is considering decamping abroad amid the ongoing energy crisis.

Meyer Burger Technology, a Swiss firm, said the decision on whether to pull its manufacturing out of Germany or not will be made “within weeks”.

Gunter Erfurt, the company’s CEO, insisted that would be a move he did not want to make, although he added that the worsening power situation in Germany may leave the firm with no choice.

“One scenario is to relocate production to the USA,” he said, noting that the possibility was also being driven by increased efforts by the US and Chinese Governments to invest in the solar sector.

Erfurt said, with the company already setting up a solar-cell manufacturing plant in the US, it had garnered offers from local officials for significant state support.

“Within two weeks, we received promises from political decision-makers for settlement aid and tax relief and there are also extremely cheap loans and cheap energy.”

He warned that if similar efforts were not made soon by German officials, Meyer Burger would be forced to leave so as not to be outmanoeuvred by their competitors on price.

He insisted that he did not want the company to quit Germany, saying: “If I had to stand in front of the local workforce and announce that we were moving the East German plants to the USA, that would be my biggest professional defeat.”

Erfurt’s apparent dilemma comes as Germany experiences an increasing number of high-profile company bankruptcies.

According to a report by Allianz Trade, the country is set to see the highest number of major insolvencies since 2016. It has already recorded 45 such failures in the first nine months of this year.

“That is an increase of 73 per cent compared to the previous year or 165 per cent compared to 2021,” the firm noted.

The report found that the country’s hardest-hit industries are construction, followed by trades and the retail sector. It also found that businesses dealing in textiles were badly hit.

In addition, a dip in German consumer spending is hitting businesses hard, with holiday-season sales down on previous years.

Milo Bogaerts, Meyer Burger’s Germany, Austria and Switzerland CEO, said: “This year, significantly fewer gifts are likely to end up under the Christmas tree.

“As a result, a cold autumn wind is currently blowing for many fashion and electronics retailers, some toy manufacturers and retailers and, in some cases, restaurateurs.”

He also warned that an increased number of insolvencies in Germany’s largest trading partners was likely to have a knock-on effect in the country.

“German companies should therefore be doubly vigilant about impending ‘snowball effects’ and pay attention to warning signals among their customers,” Bogaerts added.