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From GreenTech startup to one of the photovoltaic market leaders in Europe: Solarwatt celebrates its 30th anniversary

Dresden, Germany – Solarwatt, a pioneer in the field of solar-powered sector coupling, celebrates its 30th anniversary: Exactly three decades ago, the founders signed the shareholder agreement and started the manual production of solar modules. Today, more than 800 Solar- watt professionals work throughout Europe for the Dresden-based company, which aims to achieve a turnover of one billion euros in 2025 – which corresponds to around 200,000 photo- voltaic systems sold throughout Europe. “30 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,” says Solarwatt CEO, Detlef Neuhaus.

From the very beginning: Pioneers of the solar industry

Solarwatt was founded in Dresden in 1993 by Dr Frank Schneider and Lothar Schlegel who were to drive the industry forward with technological innovations from an early stage. Developing our own stringer machines for solar module production and launching the first glass-glass solar module on the market as early as 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 de- velopment has decisively shaped Solarwatt and set a new standard in the residential building in- dustry,” emphasises Detlef Neuhaus. Today, Solarwatt exclusively produces glass-glass modules in our module production facility F8 in Dresden.

In 2000, Solarwatt opened the production of the first series of solar modules in Dresden, and only two years later more production lines were launched on site. In 2002, Solarwatt employed over 100 employees and increased the company’s turnover to16 million euros. “The solar boom was in full swing after the turn of the millennium – and Solarwatt experienced unprecedented growth as a result and Solarwatt also benefited from this,” explains Detlef Neuhaus. In 2005, the Dresden-based company goes public, and by 2007, annual sales will rise to more than 200 million euros. Production capacity is now 100-megawatt peak (MWp) per year.

Solar crisis in Germany: “We have reinvented Solarwatt”

In 2010, the Dresden-based company had a turnover of 325 million euros and employed almost 500 people throughout Germany, but in the following year, like many other manufacturers, came under pressure due to the general solar crisis. “We then seized the opportunity and, together with our new main shareholder, Stefan Quandt– who had been involved with Solarwatt since 1998 – reinvented Solarwatt as a photovoltaic system provider and provider of solar-powered sector coupling,” said Detlef Neuhaus, who initially joined Solarwatt as Chief Sales Officer in 2011 and has been the CEO of the company since 2012. Since then, Solarwatt has focused on the devel- opment, production, and sales of premium quality photovoltaic systems for private individuals and commercial enterprises.

“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,” explains Neuhaus – and our continued success proves the CEO was right: Solarwatt today is one of the very 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 Solar- watt.

The course is set for sector coupling

Already at the forefront of industry innovation, the Dresden-based company set the course for sector coupling: Solarwatt has been working in collaboration with the BMW Group since 2013, developing solutions for charging electric cars with solar power together with the Munich-based automotive group. Also in 2013, Solarwatt launches the Energy Manager. The intelligent control unit optimises and distributes generated solar power and uses it exactly where it is needed throughout a commercial building or home. Today, the third model of the SOLARWATT Man- ager is at the core of Solarwatt’s sector coupling integrations and controls both the solar system with battery storage as well as a heat pump and the charging processes for an electric vehicle.

The company is also breaking new ground in sales: As early as 2014, Solarwatt was one of the first to rely on two-stage sales and direct partnerships with solar installers instead of sole whole- sale. In the same year, Solarwatt also takes over Centrosolar’s subsidiaries in the Benelux countries and France. “That was the starting signal for our expansion in Europe,” explains Detlef Neuhaus. In addition to Germany, the Dresden-based company now operates in France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Italy, and Spain with their own branches, respectively. In 2022, Solar- watt generated around 40 percent of its total turnover of 330 million euros in other European countries. In total, the Dresden-based company has a network of 8,500 partners throughout Europe who install Solarwatt products.

Intelligent linking of the worlds of photovoltaics, mobility, and heat

In 2015, Solarwatt presented MyReserve, the first fully modular battery storage system that can be adapted very precisely to the respective requirements in the household or in commercial operations. “MyReserve was definitely a game changer in the battery storage market. After the presentation of our storage system, many manufacturers also opted for modular systems,” says Detlef Neuhaus.

In 2021, the SOLARWATT Battery flex was launched on the market, developed in cooperation with the BMW Group: “This product incorporates the comprehensive automotive expertise of the global BMW Group coupled with the in-depth storage know-how that we have built up at Solarwatt in recent years,” emphasises Detlef Neuhaus. The SOLARWATT Battery flex battery storage sys- tem also has a modular design and is produced in the semi-automated Solarwatt storage sys- tem production facility in Dresden.

In May 2022, Solarwatt ignited the next stage of solar-powered sector coupling: The Dresden- based company entered a partnership with Stiebel Eltron, one of the market leading suppliers of technology products for building and heating services and green tech. Solarwatt thus finally enables its customers and partners to intelligently link the worlds of photovoltaics, mobility, and as the CEO Detlef Neuhaus explains: “With solar systems, heat pumps and electric cars, homeowners and commercial enterprises can supply them- selves 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.”

About Solarwatt

Solarwatt is the pioneer in the field of solar-driven sector coupling. The company enables homeowners and commercial owners to efficiently supply themselves with solar power, sustainable heat and electromobility in a holistic system. Solarwatt’s vision is to be the lifelong companion for people who want to provide themselves with clean energy. Solarwatt has stood for research, development, and production in premium quality for 30 years. The Solarwatt Group employs more than 600 people at its production and administration site in Dresden, and around 800 throughout Europe.

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