HoloSolis will build the largest photovoltaic panel factory in EU

French manufacturer HoloSolis is to build Europe’s largest photovoltaic panel factory in Hambach, near Sarreguemines in Moselle, France. The construction involves an investment of 710 million euros.

Onsite construction is expected to launch in the second quarter of this year, and production will start in 2025. The factory is targeted to produce 10 million PV panels per year, equivalent to the energy needs of 1 million homes. It would also create 1,700 jobs.

Strong Chinese competition

HoloSolis raised some 850 million euros in investment, including 710 million euros in aid from the French state and Europe. “For years we have subsidized solar panels made on the other side of the world, now we are going to have solar panels ‘Made in France’, said Industry Minister Roland Lescure when he announced the news in May last year.

The new factory, which is currently being built on a 50-hectare site in the Lorraine region, would thus aim to compete directly with China. This is not an easy job when you know, for example, that the market seems to be cooling a bit, and there is a stockpile of cheap Chinese solar modules alone, 140 to 170 photovoltaic modules, at ports and European companies.

These are not figures that worry CEO Jan Jacob Boom-Wichers. “The European NZIA regulations for a net-zero industry require 40% of panels installed by 2030 to be of EU origin. The NZIA is creating the viable market we need,” he told the French newspaper La Tribune.

With the 5GW solar PV modules that HoloSolis will build, it is aiming for three markets: residential rooftop panels, commercial and industrial scale rooftop panels, and agrivoltaic modules, the dual use of land for energy solar power generation and agriculture.

Qualified personnel from the automotive sector

In addition to the French state and the EU, InnoEnergy and Heraeus are among the major investors. InnoEnergy bills itself as Europe’s largest renewable energy incubator, with the backing of Engie, Schneider, Siemens, and Total. Germany’s Heraeus, a low-profile technology group despite having 19,000 employees, specializes in precious metals and innovative technologies.

The point is that it will not be easy to get enough qualified staff nearby. Ineos Grenadier, for example, also has a factory there, where it builds the Grenadier and other off-road vehicles in the future.

For recruiting workers, HoloSolis is more likely to look towards Germany. In Saarland, the automotive supplier ZF Friedrichshafen plans to shed two-thirds of its workforce by 2030. Its factory, near Hambach, employs 2,500 cross-border workers from Lorraine and Alsace. The car manufacturer Ford, which produces its Focus model in Saarlouis (3,750 employees), will also cease its activity in 2025.

In December 2022, the EU launched its European Solar Photovoltaic Industry Alliance. The alliance aims to accelerate solar PV deployment throughout the EU by developing a solar industrial ecosystem.


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