Hanwha Q CELLS to build 800MW module assembly plant in Malaysia

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Hanwha Q CELLS is to add four automated module assembly production lines to its existing main solar cell production facility in Cyberjaya, Malaysia.

The company said it would start construction of the 800MW fab expansion in early 2015. Hanwha Q CELLS said that the new production lines were planned to be ready for first test production in the third quarter of 2015 and expected to reach full utilisation by early 2016. Financial details were not disclosed.

Speaking to PV Tech, Finlay Colville, vice president of NPD Solarbuzz said: “The expansion announcement provides the first clear indicator ahead of the 2015 end-market forecasts, and the desire to increase shipment levels using module supply outside of China.”

The greenfield expansion is the first to be announced from a tier-one PV manufacturer in several years, indicating strong demand expectations from the company in 2015 and beyond. 

“There has been lots of talk about possible module expansions outside China in the past few weeks,” added Colville. “Many of these are likely to remain as plans, making the Q-Cells announcement all the more significant. In this respect, it could well be the stimulus for others to follow suit. Then the issue will be whether is module capacity only, or cells and modules at the same site.”

Seong Joo Ryu, managing director of Hanwha Q CELLS Malaysia said: “Hanwha Q CELLS Malaysia is ready to become the company´s main hub for the sustainable mass production of high quality solar cells and modules at competitive costs. In combining cell and module manufacturing in one production site, the company will optimise the production cycle times and reduces logistics costs.” 

Hanwha Q CELLS said in August that is was expanding its total production capacity to more than 1.5GW by the end of the year. The company has said that strong demand this year would mean it was on target for shipments to reach between 1GW to 1.2GW, while generating positive financial results. The company is not publically listed. 

PV Tech exclusively revealed yesterday that NPD Solarbuzz was forecasting global PV demand in 2015 could reach 62GW, 20% growth over this year. 

Charles Kim, CEO of Hanwha Q CELLS added: “By building module facilities of 800MW at our site in Malaysia, Hanwha Q CELLS takes the next step in becoming one of the globally leading companies in the photovoltaics industry. The new factory will strengthen our position to satisfy the heightened demand of our customers.”

Hanwha Q CELLS has been outsourcing an increasing amount of module production via sister company Hanwha SolarOne in 2014. 

“Effectively, Hanwha could basically use the SolarOne module capacity to supply to the domestic Chinese market and selected other global end markets that do not present trade-related barriers,” added Colville. “This potentially frees up the Malaysia site of Q CELLS to target end markets such as the US and Europe, or any region where the enhanced brand premium of the Q CELLS badge will command higher ASPs compared to SolarOne.”

According to Colville, the Hanwha Q CELLS expansion also provides another data point with regards to the market share gains being seen by p-type multi c-Si modules, as the company has been one of the original trendsetters in pushing the use of high-efficiency (HE) technology into the industry with high-volume cell manufacturing.

“As we move into 2015, it will be interesting to see Hanwha's next move in terms of wafer and cell production and how it moves one step closer to being a real threat to the likes of Yingli Green Energy and Trina Solar in 2016,” said Colville. 

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