Hollande’s merger initiative (outside the presidential bedroom)

french actress and solar panels

Oooh La La! What has a French actress got to do with solar panel manufacturing? Read on…

Here at the SQHQ we try to cover solar policy as often as we can in these pages. Let’s face it there’s nothing more enjoyable than covering the sorry policy efforts offered by the chair polishers in state and federal seats of power. With some exceptions (heads up ACT), policy that takes into account the advantages of solar energy in Australia might as well be made by a bunch of backward-looking, chest-thumping, narky neo trogs …. (or am I being too harsh here?).

Recently we’ve contrasted the approach of the Oz pollies with the hands-on policy taken by the Chinese and also had a look at how this ethos is seeping into progressive US state administrations. See the article on progressive New York governor Andrew Cuomo here.

However while China leverages its enormous economies of scale behind its solar energy sector, surely the gold standard amongst Western countries for solar policy initiatives is Germany. Therefore when SQ chief Finn bumped into your correspondent at the virtual SQ water cooler and suggested an article about a new “super” solar manufacturing collaboration between Germany, France and Switzerland, the opportunity was one not to be missed.

According to a recent interview given to the French financial news source Les Echo by the German energy research centre Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE Eicke Weber (phew!), the planning of the giant solar cell manufacturing company  involved three European countries: France, Germany and Switzerland.

The merger had originally been proposed by French president Francois (call me Billy Clinton) Hollande. Now fans of the machinations of high political office and the Murdoch press world news coverage will know that M. Hollande has been engaged in allegations of a (how shall I put it delicately?) merger of another kind. That of a rumoured tryst with a certain French actress.

Now call me old fashioned but isn’t this kind of shenanigans (a) Monsieur le President’s own family’s business and (b) almost compulsory behaviour in the Elysee Palace? Perhaps all will be revealed (as the actress said to the president).

But I digress. Back to the solar merger. Though possibly being overlooked completely in this media brouhaha, the major solar project will combine the power of the three European countries. The German company said the initiative would involve co-operation with the French National Solar Energy Institute (INES) and Swiss research centre CSEM.

The proposed name for the solar cell factory is the futuristic X-GW and the centre will have an initial production capacity of 1 to 1.5 GW with the aim to multiply by 2020.

The aim of the initiative originally proposed by M. Hollande would be to counter the Chinese influence in cheap solar panels. The collaboration between the three will (the countries hope) be able to produce economies of scale in solar production comparable to China. This would bring down the cost of solar panels even further.

Will an East/West price war for solar cells be inevitable? Is it too early to say the three country project will bring the price of quality European solar panels down to the level of Chinese stock? This surely must be one of its key aims and can only be a good thing for solar customers worldwide.

The Airbus-style project may also show that co-operation in production, manufacture and sales will only enhance the existing advantages of solar energy as we move closer to the climate change “tipping point” that has been discussed so strenuously. Your thoughts, ideas and views on the proposed three country solar project merger will, as always, be welcome either here or over at our Facebook Page.


  1. d'Albert Mtalhoko says

    Without making too mush light of the issue of the ‘fledgling’ Tripartite West European Solar – Energy proposition, ‘Deutsche-Welle’ (D-W) hit ‘ the nail on head’ when it said it was a ‘damp squid’ as the French President had a different approach to ‘Energy Generation ‘ approach than that of the German Chancellor. He (Francois Hollande) is ‘wedded’ to ‘Nuclear Energy’ and even exports some to ‘Royaume-Uni’ at peak times whereas She (Angela Merkel) is toying around with the policy of divesting Deutschland of ‘Nuclear Energy’ generation within a set time frame !

  2. phase.verocity says

    Well you were being a bit harsh calling us home boy actors trogs while forgetting to give the pumped up ego bloated politicians nice names too. But anyhow I love the idea of panels coming down in price but seriously I would be more in bringing down the cost of the inverter’s and the regulators than the panels. I sure hope they get into manufacturing that stuff too because that’s where the real cash is.

  3. Rich Bowden says

    Thoughtful comments thanks d’Albert and phase.
    @phase. Harsh but fair? Will take your advice on the naming. Good points on the inverters.
    @D’Albert. These are very relevant and interesting points. Thanks for taking the time to share.

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