Panasonic, the renowned Japanese corporation, is investing significantly in the Czech Republic by demolishing its 26-year-old television factory in Pilsen (Plzeň) and replacing it with a larger facility dedicated to producing heat pumps. The demand for heat pumps in Europe has been steadily increasing, and Panasonic plans to invest 7.6 billion CZK (approximately $342 million) by 2026, with half of the investment going into the technology.
The new facility will produce up to one million heat pumps by 2030, requiring 3,000 employees. Panasonic employs 900 individuals and is actively recruiting new talent, particularly in technology. Radek Vach, the Director of Business Planning at Panasonic Heating & Ventilation Air-Conditioning Czech, emphasized that the production will continue without interruption during the extensive reconstruction process, ensuring all orders are fulfilled.
Pilsen’s plant will serve as Panasonic’s European hub for the production of heat pumps, including research and development. While the production of televisions ceased in Pilsen in March 2020 after 25 years, Panasonic commenced the production of internal heat pump units for Europe in 2018.
“We already produce these units entirely in Pilsen, and as of July 3rd, we also manufacture external units with eco-friendly refrigerants, albeit on a single line. We are almost self-sufficient and no longer need to import from Malaysia,” stated Vach.
In the past year, the company manufactured 100,000 heat pumps ranging from three to 16 kW, delivering them to any European country within 24 hours. The demand for air-to-water heat pumps in Europe has been driven by the shift away from coal as countries increasingly encourage the abandonment of solid fuel sources. To support this transition, the EU subsidizes the acquisition of heat pumps and photovoltaic sources.
The expansion of Panasonic’s operations in Pilsen includes the extensive renovation of existing buildings and halls, which have undergone significant reconstruction over the past 26 years. Additionally, the company plans to construct a new three-story hall with a total floor area of 100,000 square meters. This new facility, shaped like an “L,” will encompass the second hall, which will be preserved. As a part of the expansion, Panasonic will utilize the last available plot of land towards Tesco, further increasing the total area of the pump production facility to 140,000 square meters.
Following the cessation of television production in March last year, approximately 900 employees, including around 350 core employees, left the Panasonic factory in Pilsen. However, the company ensured all employees seamlessly transitioned to new positions. Through workshops with 40 regional employers, along with psychological and financial support, Panasonic successfully aided its former employees. Now, with the news of the production of heat pumps, many former employees are expressing interest in returning to the company.
Panasonic’s venture into heat pump production in Pilsen promises technological advancements and economic growth for the region. By creating hundreds of job opportunities, the company aims to contribute to the local economy significantly. The transformation from television manufacturing to heat pump production exemplifies Panasonic’s commitment to innovation and sustainability in line with the changing needs of the European market.