Brussels, 15 September 2010
State aid: Commission clears regional German investment aid for Wacker Chemie
The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, €97.5 million in regional investment aid that the German authorities intend to grant to Wacker Chemie AG for the production of solar grade polysilicon in Nünchritz, eastern Germany. The project involves investments of €800 million for the construction of a new plant. The Commission found the measure to be compatible with the requirements of the Regional Aid Guidelines 2007-2013 (see IP/05/1653), and in particular with its rules on large investment projects. The positive impact of the investment on regional development will outweigh any potential distortions of competition brought about by the aid.
Wacker Chemie AG is the second largest producer of polysilicon in the world. It is extending its existing site in Nünchritz by building a solar grade polysilicon plant next to its silicone/silane plant. Solar grade polysilicon is the main raw material for the production of solar crystalline wafers, cells and modules that are part of an integrated solar energy system and that convert sunlight into electricity.
Wacker Chemie already has a polysilicon production plant in the German region of Bavaria but the new investment of €800 million is to be carried out in Nünchritz, Dresden, in East Germany, an area eligible for regional aid under Article 107(3)(a) of the EU Treaty as a region with an abnormally low standard of living and high unemployment.
The German authorities intend to grant aid on the basis of existing aid schemes but, as the aid amount - €97.5 million –is above the notification ceiling, the proposed aid had to be notified to the Commission for individual assessment and clearance.
The notified aid is in line with the applicable regional aid rules: in particular, the maximum allowable aid intensity for this large investment project is not exceeded and Wacker Chemie´s market share on the world market for solar grade and overall polysilicon remains below 25% even after the investment. As the downstream photovoltaic market is growing at a double-digit rate, which is fairly above the EEA growth rate, the Commission also concluded that the additional production capacity created by the project would not raise state aid concerns. The Commission therefore concluded that the effect of the aid on competition is outweighed by its positive contribution to regional development.
The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number N221/2009 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News.