Solarwatt Celebrates 30 Years

SOLARWATT CELEBRATES its 30th anniversary as three decades ago the founders started the manual production of solar modules.

Today, the Dresden-based company employs 800 people throughout Europe, and aims to reach a turnover of one billion euros in 2025 – which corresponds to around 200,000 photovoltaic systems sold.

Detlef Neuhaus, Solarwatt CEO

Solarwatt CEO, Detlef Neuhaus, said “Thirty years in the German solar industry is an achievement of which we can truly be proud. We have developed from a small greentech start-up into one of the photovoltaic market leaders in Germany and Europe and see ourselves excellently positioned for the future.”

Solar Pioneers

Solarwatt was founded in 1993 by Dr Frank Schneider and Lothar Schlegel who developed stringer machines for solar module production and launched the first glass-glass solar module on the market in 1998.

“Double glass modules have a significantly longer lifetime than conventional glass-foil modules due to the use of glass panes on the front and back. This development has decisively shaped Solarwatt and set a new standard in the residential building industry,” continues Detlef.

Today, Solarwatt exclusively produces glass-glass modules, having moved to production of the first series of its solar modules in 2000. Two years later more production lines were launched with over 100 employees, increasing the company’s turnover to 16 million euros.

“The solar boom was in full swing after the turn of the millennium – and Solarwatt experienced unprecedented growth as a result,” Detlef explains.

“In 2005, the company went public, and by 2007, annual sales rose to more than 200 million euros, with production capacity at 100-megawatt peak (MWp) per year.”

Solar Crisis

In 2010, Solarwatt had a turnover of 325 million euros and employed almost 500 people. However, in the following year, the manufacturer came under pressure due to the general economic crisis.

“We then seized the opportunity and, together with our new main shareholder, Stefan Quandt, reinvented Solarwatt as a photovoltaic system provider and provider of solar-powered sector coupling,” said Detlef.

“At that time, the battle for the photovoltaic mass market had long since been lost to competitors from Asia. The new system strategy was the only way to lead our company into the future.”

Since then, Solarwatt has focused on the development, production, and sales of photovoltaic systems for domestic and commercial enterprises. Today, the business is one of the few remaining companies in the German solar industry and the German market leader in the segment up to 10-kilowatt peak. This means that every fifth solar system on single-family homes in Germany comes from the company.

The Future

Solarwatt has been working in collaboration with the BMW Group since 2013, developing solutions for charging electric cars.

The company has also launched the SOLARWATT Manager which controls both the solar system with battery storage as well as a heat pump and the charging processes for an electric vehicle.

As Solarwatt developed two-stage sales and direct partnerships with solar installers instead of selling wholesale, in 2014, the company acquired Centrosolar’s subsidiaries in the Benelux countries and France.

European expansion now encompasses operations in France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Italy, and Spain with their own branches. In 2022, Solarwatt generated around 40 percent of its total turnover of 330 million euros in other European countries.

In May 2022, Solarwatt entered a partnership with Stiebel Eltron, suppliers of technology products for building and heating services and Greentech.

Detlef Neuhaus comments, “With solar systems, heat pumps and electric cars, homeowners and commercial enterprises can supply themselves and save up to 80 percent of their CO2 emissions. In addition, such an energy system is also economically attractive. We are firmly convinced that sector coupling is an absolute growth market from which we as a company, but also our installation partners and our customers, will benefit in the long term.”


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