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Home > Worldwide PV Report > Business & Company

M+W Group: The First Mover in the Design and Construction of PV Fabs

M+W Group is a recognized global project partner for technology-based clients in the segments such as electronics, photovoltaics, life sciences, chemicals, science and research, energy, automotive, IT and telecoms, aerospace and defense. For nearly ten years, M+W Group has been one of the market leaders in the design and construction of new and upgraded photovoltaic fabs. Its broad spectrum of solutions extends to the manufacturing of thin-film and silicon-based solar cells and modules.
M+W Group covers the whole supply chain for thin film- and Si-based technology. Its customers range from leading manufacturers to young start-ups. By the close of 2009, the company had planned and constructed factory capacity totaling 7.7 Gigawatt (peak). This ranks M+W Group as the world’s leading company in this sector. Over the past year, the company was able to create further important foundations for sustainable growth and that’s why M+W Group expects a strong increase in sales in 2010.
Jrgen Wild, CEO of M+W Group, talks about the company’s growth story, strengths and commitment to developing cost-efficient approaches for designing and building a PV manufacturing site.

Reported by Jeanny Lim (swied@infothe.com)



Please give us a brief overview of yourself.

In March 2008, I was appointed as CEO at M+W Group following top-management positions at various international engineering and construction companies. Before embarking on my industrial career, I spent twelve years of service as an officer of the German Army ‘Bundeswehr’ and studied aerospace technology at the ‘Universitat der Bundeswehr’ in Munich, Germany.


Please give us an overview of M+W Group’ activities in the photovoltaic industry.

In the PV Sector, we rank among the first movers. We designed and built one of the first PV factories for large-scale manufacturing ten years ago, which is located in Germany. However, the industry soon took on international dimensions which progressed our experience in construction of thin-film and wafer-based PV factories at a rapid rate. We, therefore, have a long track record of planning and constructing PV factories for major companies and young players entering the market throughout the world. In Asia, for instance, where we last year celebrated our 20th anniversary, we are represented in countries like China, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

The wealth of experience can also be presented in a record-breaking statistic. By the close of 2009, we had planned and constructed factory capacity totaling 7.7 Gigawatt (peak). This ranks us as the world? leading company in this sector.

Our success is based on the fact that our aim has always been to achieve maximum competitiveness for our customers’s factories with new proposals and concepts. We developed cost-efficient concepts for pilot lines and for mass-production sites on the gigawatt scale, delivering optimized process flow and warehousing.

Today, our projects cover the complete value chain: Best-in-class solutions from sand to solar. Our solutions range from polysilicon plants, through production of ingots, wafers, cells and modules, to setting up power plants--in a PV Park or even with alternative solar-based technologies such as Concentrated Solar Power.




Could you tell us some of the competitive edges that differentiate you from your competitors in the market?

There are several key differentiators. Be it our global presence, our reliability with regard to schedules, quality and budgets, our integrated project approach or the turnkey capability--each of our customers knows that our best-in-class solution will strengthen his competitiveness. And the unique experience for the whole value chain enables us to realize even fast track project schedules with strict adherence to the budget.

In addition we can actively support the client in his fact-finding and due-diligence phases with important services such as site evaluation, total cost modelling, process technology evaluation or a site-specific feasibility study. Not to forget the green credentials. We have demonstrated that being environmentally benign and cost effectiveness are not a contradiction. For example, water reclaim as well as water/chemical recycling provides a significant reduction of running costs. By the way: Several of our projects have been designed and executed according to the LEED green building certification program.

And we are very proud to see, that our customers very often re-engage M+W Group with the same, or even larger scope, for the subsequent project.




How do you meet the unique demands of today’s solar industry?

It is our general philosophy to create value for the customer, which is clearly stated in the company’s  charter of its core values.

To give you an example of the commercial aspects: We are clearly committed to developing cost-efficient approaches for designing and building a PV manufacturing site. The initial investment is primarily the sum of process equipment, building and the related supply and disposal system costs. As manufacturing capacities for new thin film as well as for crystalline silicon-based PV sites are in the range of 100 MWp up to 1 GWp, it is imperative to pursue an integrated approach for designing, building, ramping and operating these kinds of facilities. The target of such an integrated approach has to be twofold: Low invest costs as well as low running costs. This might be contradictory at a first glance, but we have already demonstrated that possibilities do exist to fulfill both needs.

There is also a clear trend for vertical integration, e.g., the integration of ingot, wafer and cell manufacturing within one site or even within one building. Due to our comprehensive know-how we see further optimization potential for commercial efficiency.

I cannot get into details here, but it is evident that, beyond pure scaling, smart engineering, value engineering and benchmarking can contribute to increasing the competitiveness of the PV manufacturing process. To achieve these targets with regard to special requirements of our customers we refer to the expertise of our Global Technology Services within M+W Group, which is staffed with a large number of specialized experts.


What have you been doing to grow your presence in the international solar arena?

Thanks to our involvement in other globally operating high-tech industries such as semiconductor, life sciences or the R&D industry, we have not only a long-standing presence in the Americas, Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Europe, but also have a network of experienced suppliers and partners at our disposal.


What is your priority this year, business-wise and technology-wise?

We want to grow further with our customers, in this market with our advanced technology facilities, as well as with energy and environmental solutions. We are a member of the Desertec Initiative to develop a reliable, sustainable and climate-friendly energy supply from the deserts in the Middle East and Northern Africa using solar and wind energy sources. We will also expand our regional activities, e.g., in India, Middle and Southern America and the Middle East. We already have well-established subsidiaries in these regions but want to enlarge our local capacities.


How do you evaluate your performance last year and how much growth do you expect for this year?

Over the past year, the global financial and economic crisis resulted in investment shifts and delays for some projects. Nevertheless, we are proud that it has been possible to generate a satisfactory order intake. At the same time we were able to create further important foundations for sustainable growth, so that we expect a strong increase in sales in 2010.








What’s next at M+W Group as you strive to improve your technologies and drive solar power innovation?

Providing best-in-class solutions for our customers is a permanent challenge for us. Our leading position in the market demonstrates that we are very successful in managing this. 

One example out of our portfolio of energy and environment solutions is CSP, which stands for Concentrated Solar Power generation. Here, we are focusing on the innovative Fresnel collector technology. We have jointly installed a first pilot plant utilizing flat glass mirrors in place of parabolically curved mirrors in Spain. The flat glass mirrors enable substantially lower construction and operating costs, very low water use and other advantages that make such an investment more cost-efficient and bankable.



Who do you think are some of the potential customers for your solutions for designing and constructing PV solutions?

Let me ask a question in response: Why should a potential new customer not become our customer? We cover the whole value chain with our global engineering and construction know-how. We have developed and realized cost-efficient concepts, be it thin film or crystalline silicon-based, for R&D facilities, pilot lines as well as for mass production sites in the gigawatt-scale, and we can realize such projects as a turnkey project.


Please introduce your management philosophy that you have been pursuing.

Our management philosophy is written down in our core values. To give you a brief impression, let me quote two sentences: “We commit ourselves to a long-term partnership focused on creating value for our customer.” And “We will continuously improve our service and foster the teamwork of our Group.”


Jeanny Lim is Editor-in-Chief of InterPV. Send your comments to swied@infothe.com.



For more information, please send your e-mails to pved@infothe.com.

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