In Germany, for example, machines for manufacturing solar modules are made in the country, but cell production has almost entirely been moved to Asia. A study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE , commissioned by the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA), has now compared the production cost ratios in Europe and China. It found that solar modules could be manufactured in Europe again at competitive costs without state subsidies, since this would eliminate transport costs from Asia, among other advantages. However, this would require a production capacity of at least 5 GW per year, equal to 1/30 of the world’s current installed production capacity of around 150 GW. Such a production plant would require investment of over €1 billion and create several thousand new direct and indirect jobs.
According to the study, the ideal case scenario is when a closed supply chain is established locally in Europe for the main materials and production takes place in a European country with comparatively low labor costs, for example, from where solar modules manufactured in Europe can also be sold to neighboring regions.