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Meyer Burger Suspends a PV Module Production Line Due to Impact of COVID-19

published: 2021-12-15 9:30

Swiss PV equipment provider and PV module manufacturer Meyer Burger announced at the start of this December that it has suspended the operation of one of its two production lines at its module factory located in the German city of Freiberg. The reason stated by the company was the absence of workers caused by sick leaves and quarantine orders related to the latest local COVID-19 outbreaks. The suspension is expected to persist to the end of January 2022.

This event is the latest setback that Meyer Burger faces in ramping up its production of PV modules based on the HJT cell technology. Several months ago, the company disclosed that bottlenecks in the supply chain had led to a supply crunch for key components and delays in the production schedule.

Meyer Burger is currently implementing a vertical integration strategy and will extend its presence from the equipment section of the supply chain to the cell and module sections. Its new cell production plant in the German city of Thalheim formally entered operation this October. The annual production capacity of the cell factory is now at 400MW and will expand further over multiple phases of development. Meyer Burger aims to attain a combined cell and module production capacity of 1.4GW per year by the end of 2022.

Despite the suspension of one of the module production lines in Freiberg, Meyer Burger stated that the module plant as a whole is still on schedule with respect to the progress in capacity expansion. According to the company’s assessment, the reduction in output is relatively insignificant and temporary. Only a small number of orders will be affected because of the “conservative planning of deliveries to customers”. On the other hand, the suspension of the production line will have a negative effect on the turnover for 2021. An earlier article from PV-Tech said that Meyer Burger’s revenue for the first half of 2021 came to CHF 18 million (USD 19.7 million), which reflects a year-on-year decline. However, the company stated that orders for its modules continue to grow in volume, and its modules are actually “fully sold out” into the fourth quarter of 2021.

Along with the notice of restricted output, Meyer Burger also informed its customers that the prices of its modules will soon rise. The reasons for the price hikes are the cost trend and the desire to be in line with the pricing strategies of its competitors. This news does not appear to be directly related to the effects of the pandemic.

This August, Meyer Burger revealed that it has around 30 distributors for its modules in North America and Europe. They include BayWa, Krannich Solar, IBC Solar, Sonepar, Memodo, and CED Greentech. Despite disruptions in the supply chain, the company holds a fairly positive view on the visibility of its module orders and the market situation in 2022.

The newly formed German government is considering to double the domestic PV installation target for 2030 from the existing 100GW to 200GW. Meyer Burger expects to profit from Germany’s proactive stance in the development of the domestic PV sector as well as the Build Back Better Act recently passed by the US government. The Build Back Better Act will allocate around USD 555 billion for environmental protection and clean energy initiatives.

Meyer Burger has also revealed a plan to build a new 400MW module production plant in the US next year. The company will decide the exact location of this factory by the end of this year. The reporting by renewable energy news websites indicates that the proposed plant in the US will be used to manufacture modules for residential, commercial, and utility-related applications.

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