German technology conglomerate and photovoltaic (PV) component manufacturer Heraeus has recently acquired an undisclosed stake in the French PV manufacturing startup Holosolis. The strategic investment is intended to bolster the development of a planned 5GW module assembly plant in Hambach, France.
Set to commence operations in 2025, the facility is projected to achieve full production capacity by 2027, focusing on the manufacturing of modules based on tunnel oxide passivated contact (TOPCon) cells. In line with this partnership, Heraeus has committed to supplying Holosolis with its silver metallisation pastes, a vital component in the production of solar cells.
This ambitious project was initially unveiled in May of this year, in collaboration with partners IDEC Group, a specialist in the rooftop market, and French solar developer TSE, renowned for its expertise in agrivoltaics. In a notable development, Holosolis recently announced a research partnership with Fraunhofer ISE to provide valuable insights and guidance during the factory's concept design and construction phases.
Christian Neumann of Heraeus expressed their commitment to the venture, stating, “Heraeus will supply HoloSolis with the latest metallisation technologies, a key element in the production of a photovoltaic cell. We will also play an active role on the board of directors, providing advice, experience, and expertise.”
Highlighting the growing significance of the photovoltaic industry in Europe's energy transition, Neumann added, “The photovoltaic industry has become a pillar of Europe's energy transition. Its rapid growth requires a multiplication of supply chains, both globally and locally. We are proud to contribute to this strategic investment and strengthen our position in a market that is crucial for CO2 reduction.”
Recent months have seen mounting concerns within the European PV manufacturing sector regarding supply chain diversity and resilience. The European Solar Manufacturing Council (ESMC) issued an open letter urging the European Union to implement protective measures to safeguard the industry against the pressure from low-priced Chinese imports.
Jan Jacob Boom-Wichers, President of Holosolis, emphasized the advantages of their Hambach site, saying, “At our Hambach site, the economies of scale and the automation of the lines will enable us to achieve costs that are globally competitive.”
ESMC also issued another letter calling for the prohibition of solar modules produced with forced labor from entering Europe. As a response to these concerns, two European Union committees have submitted a draft regulation aimed at banning products associated with forced labor from entering the European market.
Manufacturers are increasingly recognizing that competition in the European market will necessitate factors beyond pricing. Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations, particularly sustainability, are gaining prominence, alongside larger issues pertaining to traceability and the elimination of forced labor from supply chains.