Oops: Renewable Energy Costs Shut Down Solar Cell Manufacturing in Europe

Essay by Eric Worrall

First published on JoNova; Despite green claims renewables are the cheapest form of power, renewable manufacturers are struggling to survive Europe’s soaring energy prices.

European solar PV manufacturing at risk from soaring power prices – Rystad

By Jules Scully
October 6, 2022

Around 35GW of PV manufacturing projects in Europe are at risk of being mothballed as elevated power prices damage the continent’s efforts to build a solar supply chain, research from Rystad Energy suggests.

Audun Martinsen, Rystad Energy’s head of energy service research, said high power prices not only pose a significant threat to European decarbonisation efforts but could also result in increased reliance on overseas manufacturing.

“Building a reliable domestic low-carbon supply chain is essential if the continent is going to stick to its goals, including the REPowerEU plan, but as things stand, that is in serious jeopardy,” he added.

Read more: https://www.pv-tech.org/european-solar-pv-manufacturing-at-risk-from-soaring-power-prices-rystad/

Shortly after the above was published, a French solar module plant was closed;

Maxeon closes French solar module manufacturing plant

By Jules Scully
October 7, 2022

Maxeon Solar Technologies has shut down a PV module manufacturing plant in France, citing a challenging price environment.

The facility was impacted by rising costs and taxes on raw material imports, according to a Maxeon spokesperson.

“The production price of the Porcelette plant no longer allows us to be competitive on the European market,” the spokesperson said in a statement sent to PV Tech.

Located in northeastern France, the facility was inaugurated in 2012. According to press release from that year, the plant had a 44MWp production line capable of producing 150,000 solar panels annually.

Read more: https://www.pv-tech.org/maxeon-closes-french-solar-module-manufacturing-plant/

The obvious question, if renewables are so cheap, why don’t these plants relocate to a large plot of land, disconnect from the grid, and power their manufacturing facilities from their own low cost renewable energy products?

Seems an obvious solution – but for some reason renewable manufacturers seem to be choosing to shutter their plants, rather than switching to consuming their own product.

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Jamaica NYC
October 8, 2022 6:03 pm

I read that last line as consuming their own poop, doesn’t change the meaning

Loren C. Wilson
October 8, 2022 6:05 pm

Higher power prices should make them more competitive if they are really the lowest cost solution. I guess the lack of subsidy is the deciding factor.

Reply to  Loren C. Wilson
October 9, 2022 3:25 am

the other sources like gas/coal etc rose in supply costs enourmously
wind/solar didnt cost a cent more BUT their powers raking in a HUGE bonus over the others and subsidised to hell as well
lets see THEM pay the Excess profits TAX as well hey?

Bryan A
Reply to  Loren C. Wilson
October 9, 2022 4:30 pm

Higher FF energy prices absolutely make costly ruinables more cost competitive, if not Griff would have nothing to go on abojt

Tom Halla
October 8, 2022 6:07 pm

Wind and solar are subsidy mining operations, first and last.

Reply to  Tom Halla
October 8, 2022 7:11 pm

With kickbacks to the politicians providing the subsidies.

Reply to  tgasloli
October 8, 2022 11:58 pm

Possibly the most determinant factor in their continued political existence

Reply to  tgasloli
October 10, 2022 4:42 am

“With kickbacks to the politicians providing the subsidies”
But, but ….
Surely all politicians and functionaries are sea-green incorruptibles, with only the best interests of their society at heart.
Aren’t they??
Not just in Erewhon …

(Right, only one coffee so far today. Perhaps I’m not thinking too clearly!)

Reply to  Tom Halla
October 9, 2022 11:49 am

“For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.” –Warren Buffet cited by U.S. News/Nancy Pfotenhauer

October 8, 2022 6:10 pm

Fortress Europe is protectionist to the core–when not buying forced labor solar products from China.

Rich Davis
Reply to  ResourceGuy
October 9, 2022 12:22 am

Maybe the EU could get their own slaves to make slaver panels that can compete with China?

Reply to  Rich Davis
October 9, 2022 9:42 am

Is China selling Uyghurs slaves now? There seems like there is a market for them.

Bryan A
Reply to  Brad-DXT
October 9, 2022 4:32 pm

Not likely, nothing comes up in an Amazon Search for “Uyghur Slave”

Reply to  Brad-DXT
October 10, 2022 8:45 am

No not complete, they break them for spares and sell them bit by bit that way they are worth far more.

Reply to  Gary Ashe
October 10, 2022 9:21 am

Yeah I forgot the CCP has a chop shop for lots of spare parts.

October 8, 2022 6:12 pm

The low cost leaders in solar avoid producing in Europe because they would soon become the high cost producers.

Rich Davis
Reply to  ResourceGuy
October 9, 2022 12:24 am

You can’t make slaver panels without slaves…and plenty of fossil fuels!

Bryan A
Reply to  Rich Davis
October 9, 2022 4:33 pm

Why else would China want all that new Coal Generation?

October 8, 2022 6:34 pm

“reliance on overseas manufacturing” should be more clearly defined as “reliance overseas fossil fueled manufacturing”

Reply to  eo
October 9, 2022 1:32 am

Exporting emissions

October 8, 2022 6:45 pm

Go Green with labor and environmental arbitrage.

October 8, 2022 6:58 pm

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Maybe both.

Janice Moore
October 8, 2022 7:27 pm


Bryan A
Reply to  Janice Moore
October 10, 2022 7:52 am

The only thing worse than renewables (stupidity) is more renewables (doubling down on stupidity)

October 8, 2022 7:41 pm

“RE” factories being shown to be 100% dependent on (relatively) cheap Russian fossil imports.

Gives a new meaning to fossil fuel subsidies.

michael hart
Reply to  niceguy
October 8, 2022 7:58 pm

Yes, something that too often needs explaining to people bellyaching about fossil fuel “subsidies”.

Back in the 1980’s recession even the BBC understood why North Sea Oil was “black gold”. The revenues supported the UK Treasury, the Pound, high unemployment and, errr… the whole economy.

Fast forward a couple of decades and they believe that the reverse is true. It really should make them wonder how Saudi Arabia manages it. Do they think the Saudis generate vast oil revenues by sudsidising fossil fuels with taxes on sand and camels

Chris Hanley
October 8, 2022 8:20 pm

The lifetime energy produced by a solar PV panel is only double the total energy used in the mining-transporting-manufacture-transporting-installation-maintenance-removal-safe disposal of that panel together with the provision of necessary energy storage when the panel is idle (Germany):
(Weissbach et al.)
Another study found solar PV (in Germany) to be a net energy sink.

Last edited 7 months ago by Chris Hanley
CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  Chris Hanley
October 9, 2022 12:05 pm

“Another study found solar PV (in Germany) to be a net energy sink.


I have no expertise in the physics of solar energy, but I will hazard a guess and suggest that determining whether solar panels are a net energy sink would depend on where the panel is installed.

A solar farm in the Arizona desert might provide a net energy gain to one degree or another, while more cloudy areas like Germany might make the panels an energy sink (net loss).

Germany, 136 sunny days/year:

Arizona, 250-300 days/year (depending on location)

The difference between the two is quite stark in my view. But of course, the green ideologists are probably not interested in taking solar panel location into consideration when pushing their anti-fossil fuel belief system. And then there is the intermittency and poor energy density of solar as well.

Unfortunately, this is probably all Orwellian thought-crime.

October 8, 2022 8:30 pm

The incompetents in academia are yet to realise that “renewables” are unattainable”. No matter the source of energy, if it takes more energy to build energy extractors than they can possibly produce over their operating life then they are not sustainable.

“Renewable energy” meaning wind and solar energy converters is misuse of language.

China realised this a few years back and stopped the subsidies. Developed countries are still to reach that obvious conclusion because they have lost the ability to produce stuff. The possibility only exists in academia where no one has ever produced anything other than acquired stupidity; the complete absence of common sense.

Reply to  RickWill
October 8, 2022 10:40 pm

“Developed countries are still to reach the obvious conclusion because” their leaders can’t do basic mathematics, and can’t handle simple logic.

Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
October 9, 2022 12:01 am

Also, probably, because our leaders have financial incentives to NOT do the basic maths. Simple logic.

Reply to  RickWill
October 9, 2022 3:05 am

Most people are far removed from how things are made. The importance of reliable continuous power cannot be overstated. Plants that make the raw materials that societies are built on run continuously and often have many high temperature steps in the process that must be controlled precisely. Bringing processes to temperature can take hours or days and you usually throw away or recycle the first product off the line. When it starts running well at a steady state you keep it going 24/7 to make it economical.

Solar cells rely on poly silicon ingots. To make these you start with silica that’s reacted with graphite at 2000C. The silicon raw material is purified before it’s grown into ingots in a factor at 1000C. The process takes a week at this temp. This link has a good video of the process. https://www.solarmango.com/scp/polysilicon-from-sand-to-solar-cells-it-starts-here/

The process that can’t tolerate power shut downs at all is aluminum smelting. Shutting down aluminum plants will literally destroy the processing equipment as the casks cool from 940C to room temp. There used to be extensive smelting operations in the US often associated with low cost hydropower sources. That hydropower source is now the reliable renewable electricity for cities that shut down their fossil fuel power plants to green the grid. Much of that aluminum is now made in China (>50% of the world’s supply).

if you don’t have reliably low cost energy, you can’t have an industrial economy.

Reply to  Sean
October 10, 2022 4:43 am

The link you posted is from a solar company. I think you might like this link, it shows how silicon ingots are made in China.


October 8, 2022 8:31 pm

It should be against the law for these clowns to buy solar or wind construction or operating materials that aren’t manufactured with wind and or solar. The whole sorry scheme would fall apart.

Chris Hanley
October 8, 2022 9:20 pm

Energy Minister Chris Bowen has announced that Australia will become a ‘renewable energy superpower’ including the installation of 60 million solar panels by 2030.
US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry kindly reassuring Chris that he not an utter moron.

Last edited 7 months ago by Chris Hanley
Reply to  Chris Hanley
October 8, 2022 9:33 pm

Rolling with coalar panels from China is as close as that numpty will get to a Superpower.

Bryan A
Reply to  observa
October 9, 2022 9:41 am

@250W Peak nameplate per panel that’s 4 panels per KW, 4,000 per MW and 4,000,000 per GW. 60,000,000 is about 15GW of capacity. HOWEVER, solar only produces this from 10 am to 2 pm local so with about a 20% capacity factor, this indicates that 15GW capacity will be about 3GW production for the 4 hours a day of production time on sunny days.
To get the full 15 GW in a 24 hour period would require 15GW of Battery Storage and an additional 240,000,000 panels dedicated to charging those batteries daily.

Reply to  Bryan A
October 9, 2022 7:13 pm

So it’s absolutely feasible. Piece of cake. Not a problem. Walk in the park.

Reply to  Chris Hanley
October 9, 2022 12:03 am

Does Chris Bowen not realize that John Kerry is the baseline definition of “utter moron”?

Reply to  rho
October 9, 2022 5:52 am

Well, we make ‘horse face’ jokes at jabs about John Kerry. But if we switched to comparing Kerry’s intelligence to that of a horse, the horse would win by 1/8 of a furlong and pulling away.

The mistake was not appointing the horse as ‘Climate Ambassador.’ The Biden maladministration backed the wrong horse.

Reply to  Chris Hanley
October 9, 2022 3:29 am

hope he takes a drive in the floods

Dave Fair
Reply to  Chris Hanley
October 9, 2022 9:55 am

Replace “Australia will become a ‘renewable energy superpower’” with “Australia will become a ‘third world country’.”

Old Man Winter
October 8, 2022 9:25 pm

Another Green fantasy bubble burst!

Last edited 7 months ago by Old Man Winter
Peta of Newark
October 8, 2022 9:57 pm

How many wrongs can we see in this…..

Quote:”Oops: Renewable Energy Costs Shut Down Solar Cell Manufacturing in Europe
The significant ones I see:
1/ The manufacturers here are not manufacturing solar cells, they are not fabricating Silicon. They are assembling modules, using pre-existing (made In China probably) slices of Silicon using sticky backed plastic, silicon adhesive goo and a soldering iron. A child could do it.

2/ When they rail about ‘energy costs’ they are lying. In Europe. Energy is not the main cost, even at its now inflated prices. The Main Costs for anything in Europe (also anywhere in the whole Western World) is the cost of labour, of finding folks to do the job.
And The Significant Cost there is tax. Not just what the company itself has to pay for simply being ‘A Company’ (esp. regulatory costs) but what the employees have to pay from the wages they get.

e.g. the UK
A fairly quick back-of-envelope calculation will tell you the average UK person loses over 65% of their gross salary in mandatory takes – direct tax, indirect tax, compulsory pension funding, sales tax on what they buy, insurance tax, council tax etc
And that’s before they might buy any ultra high tax goods like alcohol, tobacco, foreign holidays or, shock horror, fuel of any description.

Now do we see the intrinsic wrong here.
It is that nobody dare question the ruling elite = the ones creating the regulations and demanding the tax.
Government is now far too big & far too powerful and nobody dares even whisper the notion.

Everything is wrong in this world because everything is now predicated on lies, wilful ignorance, virtue signalling, buck passing, selfishness and hypocrisy.

And the preceding story on here, about the gun toting wannabe nurse so beautifully exemplifies all those things.
Even before the rabid, self-important and willy brandishing mob that call themselves ‘Sceptics’ overtake the comment section like something straight out of Lord of the Flies.

Humanity is sooooo doomed, just from reading these/those 2 stories and esp the comments they created.
Empathy has gone. Science is dead. Money is King. Paranoia and panic control everything.
And it’s now ‘Everybody for themselves’ – despite all the fine words to the contrary. This is not going at all ‘well’

Last edited 7 months ago by Peta of Newark
Reply to  Peta of Newark
October 8, 2022 10:44 pm

“Governments are instituted among Men …” and “… they derive their just Powers from the Governed.” Might be worth trying to return to those principles.

Don Perry
Reply to  Retired_Engineer_Jim
October 9, 2022 8:21 am

Only when elections are honest; else the governed are powerless (unless they apply the second amendment).

Campsie Fellow
Reply to  Peta of Newark
October 9, 2022 12:43 am

Here’s another one.
Oops: Renewable Energy Costs Shut Down Solar Cell Manufacturing in Europe
The title doesn’t use the word ‘all’ but neither does it use the word ‘one’, so it’s somewhat misleading.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Peta of Newark
October 9, 2022 10:01 am

Peta, I do not empathize with someone who shows no empathy.

Michel le Roumeliote
October 8, 2022 10:05 pm

Sunpower received 5 million € from the EU and 400000 € from the state institution France Relance for building this plant in an old industrial region where coal mining plants were closed.
31 workers have lost their jobs. That’s the result of the looney renewable politics !

Peter Barrett
Reply to  Michel le Roumeliote
October 9, 2022 3:33 am

If true (I have no reason to doubt your figures) each job was provided at a subsidy cost of approx €175,000. I daresay the overall sunk capital loss was far higher, I wonder how much of the factory steel and equipment was purchased from China. I suspect that local politician(s) might have experienced a sudden rise in living standards.

Reply to  Peter Barrett
October 9, 2022 2:21 pm

I’m of higher suspicion that some unelected EU bureaucrats experienced subsidies to their family empires.

climate believer
Reply to  Michel le Roumeliote
October 9, 2022 3:42 am

So much for all those “green” jobs this BS was supposed to have created.

Reply to  climate believer
October 10, 2022 5:15 am

60,000,000 solar panels will need a lot of cleaning.

Frank S.
October 8, 2022 10:23 pm

“Remember the smug UN German delegation laughing at President Trump warning them not to be too dependent on Russian gas?” “Shut up, and throw another chair in the fireplace!”

Reply to  Frank S.
October 9, 2022 2:33 am

Yeah suck it up princesses-

 Actually it’s good for the environment, because when we burn our own gas it’s got lower emissions around its production than foreign gas… as well as supporting British jobs.

Oil and gas exploration ‘good for the environment’ (msn.com)

Iain Reid
October 9, 2022 12:11 am

The renewables are cheap proponents are only looking at the cost of generation, but neglect the cost to accomodate their inferior power onto the grid. These costs and any subsidies are why their cheap power puts up the unit cost to the consumer.
How can they keep saying renewables are cheap when it is obvious that the unit cost to the consumer rises as greater renewable capacity is added to the grid?

Coeur de Lion
October 9, 2022 1:36 am

Excuse me but have I missed something? The idiots above seem to think that ‘decarbonising’ (eurgh) electricity generation is the European objective etc etc. Surely this achievement would be trivial against aviation, shipping, road transport, agriculture, construction (cement?) forestry? How are these to be decarbonised? Oh, I know! Go along to a pépinière and dig up a few innocent saplings, plant them, and call them ‘trees’.

Eric Vieira
October 9, 2022 1:38 am

Solar cell manufacturing is only the beginning. There’s already a lot of talk going on about the desindustrialisation of Germany. And with the current energy prices in Europe, that is really something that could happen.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Eric Vieira
October 9, 2022 10:12 am

A subsidy here, a subsidy there. Pretty soon you are talking hefty tax increases that tend to destroy economies. Look up the Salami Principle.

Once politicians give a subsidy to one special interest, they must give subsidies to all special interests. Its just a matter of time until the real producers can no longer prevent the collapse of your economy.

October 9, 2022 2:14 am

Yes. The answer to your last question is obvious. Similarly – China builds 80% or more of the solar panels, and a significant percentage of wind turbine components – yet continues to build coal fired power stations, even though it can build as many panels or turbines as it wants for its own use

October 9, 2022 2:17 am


October 9, 2022 3:23 am

power themselves using their own product
what a great idea!
might manage 1500 a year? maybe?
damn it’d be good to see what happened if they did

October 9, 2022 5:20 am

Oh, the ironing,

October 9, 2022 7:21 am

Yes the skyrocetingbprice of fossil fuel is badly hurting industry globally. Well that happens when the global price of oil is set by Russia and the Gulf Arabs

October 9, 2022 7:25 am

Perhaps the Greens are following this post WW2 proposal: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allied_plans_for_German_industry_after_World_War_II

Doug S
October 9, 2022 7:28 am

That’s a great line Eric, “The obvious question, if renewables are so cheap, why don’t these plants relocate to a large plot of land, disconnect from the grid, and power their manufacturing facilities from their own low cost renewable energy products?”

In the US Silicon Valley we say something similar about the software that we use to conduct business, “Eating your own dog food”. Many times the marketing and sales people are out in the field promoting the company software but back in the engineering labs we’re often using competitors software because it just works better.

Rich Lentz
October 9, 2022 8:03 am

Hasn’t it been common knowledge for more than 20 years that Renewable Energy is Not Self Sustainable? Worse, Renewable Energy is not even “Sustainable” in the sense that it is more destructive to the Environment than Coal, NG or Nuclear. The only thing GREEN about Renewable Energy is the Cash that the proponents rake in from subsidies, interest free loans and Declaring bankruptcy after they make a fortune and actually make nothing, following the pattern of Solyndra..

Bill Parsons
October 9, 2022 8:04 am

The “obvious” is never what it seems.

Bjorn Lomborg asked the obvious question: Why do EVs need subsidies if people really wanted them?

WSJ Opinion: Policies Pushing Electric Vehicles Show Why Few People Want OneThey wouldn’t need huge subsidies to sell if they really were a good choice, and consumers know that.

Bjorn Lomborg
September 9, 2022 02:56 pm ET

We constantly hear that electric cars are the future—cleaner, cheaper and better. But if they’re so good, why does California need to ban gasoline-powered cars? Why does the world spend $30 billion a year subsidizing electric ones?

In reality, electric cars are only sometimes and somewhat better than the alternatives, they’re often much costlier, and they aren’t necessarily all that much cleaner. Over its lifetime, an electric car does emit less CO2 than a gasoline car, but the difference can range considerably depending on how the electricity is generated. Making batteries for electric cars also requires a massive amount of energy, mostly from burning coal in China. Add it all up and the International Energy Agency estimates that an electric car emits a little less than half as much CO2 as a gasoline-powered one.

Rich Lentz
Reply to  Bill Parsons
October 9, 2022 10:28 am

Also, I read just this week that they do not do well when flooded. Several EV fires in FL after the recent Hurricane. This also points out the fact the Special attention is going to be needed for EV Charging Stations. Under ground power distribution of electricity my do well in Tornadoes, severe rain/snow storms and most hurricanes but not well in floods unless designed to withstand maximum/100 year flood height. Worse you could get Boiled alive if you drive into a flooded underpass – like the old baby bottle heaters that heated water with electricity passing through the water.

Reply to  Bill Parsons
October 10, 2022 5:27 am

Hybrids have been a popular choice for company cars in the UK because the tax system incentivises them. Someone looked into the use-patterns of such cars and found that most drivers of them rarely if ever used electric drive.

October 9, 2022 10:03 am

I’ll try to come up with a pertinent comment as soon as I stop laughing.

October 9, 2022 3:12 pm

Solar Cell Manufacturers were hoist with their own petard.

Richard Noakes
October 10, 2022 12:28 am

I have 24 solar panels on the roof of my home. I am paid 7 cents a unit which goes directly into the national grid – I don’t get to use any of it in my home – then the electricity I use is taken out of the national grid and I am charged 23 cents a unit for what I use, which I am told is what it costs for the government to generate it, on top of a connection fee in the region of $45 every two months, so that I can use the national grid electricity. If I were able to run my home from the electricity I generate, I would be able to do that cost free, because I create more electricity than I use and I would have surplus electricity to waste.
Bureaucracy at its finest.

Reply to  Richard Noakes
October 10, 2022 2:26 am

But you would need batteries and more panels to charge them so you would have power at night, when it was cloudy and rainy. Backup is not cheap.

Richard Noakes
Reply to  PCman999
October 10, 2022 4:46 am

But I don’t live in Europe or anywhere where you get rain and clouds most of the time – blue skies and warmth here, most of the year around, in fact by Christmas it will be in the mid 30’s Centigrade and on Christmas day I will probably be in my salt water swimming pool enjoying the heat, with sunnies on and a hat on my head, thinking of you all getting appropriately frozen, over there!!

Reply to  Richard Noakes
October 10, 2022 5:13 pm

Everywhere on Earth has more hours when the sun is down or blocked by rain clouds than hours of sunlight.

Andy H
October 10, 2022 4:08 am

This is the new green economy the politicians have been promising. Thousands of manufacturing jobs … In China.

Andy Pattullo
October 10, 2022 9:33 am

A snake eating it’s own tale. Wonder how this ends?

Last edited 7 months ago by Andy Pattullo
Matthew Sykes
October 12, 2022 1:04 am

Of course copper is produced using electrolysis. There goes any chance of producing cheap motors, and the wiring needed to increase the infrastructure to handle 30 million electric cars in the UK!

Steve O
October 12, 2022 4:03 pm

If renewable energy infrastructure had to be manufactured using renewable energy, there wouldn’t be any. That’s why I propose making that mandatory, as a feel-good trojan horse that self-knee-caps renewable energy production.

October 13, 2022 7:25 am

Renewable energy cost wouldn’t shut down a site in France which is ~90% nuclear.

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