Swiss solar panel equipment maker Meyer Burger Technology is planning to raise CHF165m ($165m, E155m) to move into manufacturing in a move it likens to the shift from 4G to 5G mobile phone technology..
Following its restructuring and a board room battle with investors, the company last month said it was looking at building a manufacturing plant in Germany to make panels with the own equipment, rather than selling the equipment to other companies.
It is now actively looking to buy existing solar panel production lines, potentially from former partners in Germany as deals unravel. The company has sold its equipment to the REC group and UK perovskite solar panel maker Oxford PV as well as silicon solar panel maker Panasonic.
The reason for this fundamental change of direction is the realization that the company has not been able to generate profits from its technological leadership in recent years. This rankles with the board, as Meyer Burger’s technology has shaped the development of photovoltaics along the entire value chain and has set the industry's essential standards, such as the diamond wire saw technology, PERC technology and precision measurement technology for solar modules.
A large proportion of the solar modules produced world-wide today are based on technologies developed by Meyer Burger but by selling its production equipment, the company says it relinquished control of its technology and largely left the value creation, and profits, to its customers.
It says it now want to keep hold of the entire value chain, including sales, but not installation. It is aiming to produce PV modules primarily for roof top systems with an initial annual production capacity of 400MW.
“By transforming its business model, the Company significantly expands its value chain to achieve sustainable profits,” said the board. “In the long-term, the Company will benefit from the technology and cost leadership of its patented heterojunction SmartWire technology.”