The FINANCIAL — Together with ersol Solar Energy AG, the Bosch Group intends to expand its manufacturing capacity for crystalline solar cells and modules in Arnstadt, Germany. Some 530 million euros are to be invested in this project between now and 2012.
According to Bosch, the plan, which was proposed by the ersol management board, has now been approved by the ersol supervisory board. "This investment underscores our strategic objective of strongly expanding our activities in the area of renewable energies over the next few years," said Dr. Siegfried Dais, deputy chairman of the Bosch board of management and chairman of the supervisory board of ersol Solar Energy AG. In the summer of this year, Robert Bosch GmbH acquired the majority shareholding in this Erfurt-based photovoltaics specialist, which develops, manufactures, and sells wafer-based silicon solar cells and thin-film modules.
Construction to start this month
Excavation work is to start in the next few days. It is planned to build a large manufacturing facility for crystalline solar cells in Arnstadt, as well as to construct a module manufacturing shop and a new administrative building, and to extend the already existing research and manufacturing facilities. Start of production is planned for the beginning of 2010. According to current plans, this investment will create more than 1,100 new jobs. Even today, ersol employs some 1,200 associates in Erfurt and Arnstadt. "This is an important signal for the region, especially in difficult economic times such as these," said Dieter Althaus, minister-president of the state of Thuringia. Both the federal and state governments intend to support the project. Application has been made for subsidies totaling a good tenth of the total investment. This declaration of support means that these subsidies are already a firm component of investment planning. However, the subsidies still have to be approved by the EU Commission. A decision is expected for the spring of 2009. The investment will be financed by Bosch Group loans and ersol equity capital.
Tripling manufacturing capacity
With this investment, ersol Solar Energy AG hopes to nearly triple its present manufacturing capacity in the crystalline field to a nominal capacity of some 630 megawatt peak, and in this way to boost its growth trajectory. In the first nine months of this year alone, it generated sales of 214 million euros, twice as much as in the same period of the previous year. At the same time, its workforce has increased from 700 to a present total of more than 1,200 at its three locations in Erfurt and Arnstadt. Sales are expected to exceed 300 million euros this year, and to top 400 million euros in 2009. "With the financial strength of Bosch and our exceptionally dedicated workforce, we have everything we need for an extremely positive development," said Holger von Hebel, chairman of the management board of ersol Solar Energy AG.
Bosch is further expanding is business with renewable energies
Apart from photovoltaics, the Bosch Group offer many other products for exploiting renewable energies. Bosch Rexroth, for example, supplies gear and drive technology for wind turbines and develops efficient drive concepts for the still young sector of marine energy generation. With its hydraulic adjusting systems, it provides promising solutions for solar thermal power stations. As the market leader Bosch Thermotechnology serves the rapidly growing market for electric heat pumps, and is a leading manufacturer of solar collectors for hot-water generation. Including ersol, Bosch expects to generate sales of some 1.2 billion euros this year with products in the renewable energies field.