You are here: Themes in Focus. Solar Production Technology.
Solar Production Technology
Photovoltaics Drives Industry
From small technical nuclei, such as Berlin and Erfurt, strong manufacturer and supplier clusters have developed in Germany. They bring jobs to their regions and enrich the global solar industry with their innovations.
Photo gallery to the topic Photovoltaics Drives Industry
Mass and classshow photos
German photovoltaic equipment provides speed and quality to solar cell production.
Keeping up with demandshow photos
Because Centrotherm’s cell machinery is very much in demand, the fitters must hurry with assembly.
A lot to doshow photos
The boom in photovoltaics is not giving the solar technicians any breathing space.
Export hitshow photos
German quality modules are shipped all over the world.
Any official is happy to introduce such statistics. Production: up 20 percent; turnover: up 90 percent - and all this within the last year. These impressive values belong to the German solar industry. “Our industry figures are putting some old-established economic sectors in the shade,” comments Carsten Körnig, managing director of the German Solar Industry Association (BSW), on the latest surveys of his association.
For Körnig, announcements of success have become part of the routine: For years, photovoltaics (PV) in Germany have rushed from record to record. When the red-green Federal government decided to promote solar energy more intensively in 2003 with the so-called PV Preliminary Act (PV-Vorschaltgesetz) to the Renewable Energies Act (EEG), the measure had a rapid effect: Between 2003 and 2010, new photovoltaic installations in Germany increased more than fifty-fold to 7400 megawatt (MW). The German solar industry now employs 133,000 people and turns over 20 billion Euros - just as much as biotechnology, which is the leading industry in Germany.
Eco-conscious technicians, who tinkered with solar technology back in the 1970s, have set the photovoltaic engine alight. One of their centres was Berlin. A collective of eleven engineers started up the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Solarfabrik in 1996, from which the module constructor Solon emerged in 1997. Another group around the founder of the Berlin-based company Wuseltronik, Reiner Lemoine, set up the company Q-Cells in 1996 in the Federal capital, which set up cell production on greenfield sites in 2001 in Thalheim in Saxony Anhalt. Erfurt has proven itself as a further solar nucleus: In 1997, microtechnician Jürgen Hartwig developed the company Ersol there together with business friends. “At the beginning, they produced their cells on four decommissioned AEG machines,” says Peter Frey, managing director of the “Solarvalley Mitteldeutschland” industry cluster. Then Ersol gathered speed: It grew to become the second-largest German cell manufacturer, went public and was ultimately taken over by Bosch as a high-tech company in 2009.
Today, Q-Cells and Bosch Solar Energy are the lighthouses of the Solarvalley, to which 34 manufacturers and ten suppliers now belong and which offers work to a total of 15,000 people. And the Solarvalley has an effect far beyond the borders of Germany: Companies from all over the world purchase cells from the cluster and then use them to construct modules, which they successfully sell. In turn, this provides growth and jobs in China and other countries.