Q-Cells makes major move on thin film in First Solar’s backyard

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on email
Email

The news that Q-Cells, the largest PV manufacturer in the world in
2007, will break ground on a major manufacturing complex in Mexicali,
Mexico in 4Q08, marks several potential milestones for the emerging
thin-film PV market.

Although the complex is to be built in phases with an important eye focused on the actual demand for thin-film modules in North America and Latin America, the $3.5 billion planned spending is currently the largest of its kind in the PV industry for a single site.

It also underlines the significant potential for thin-film technologies both as a fast-ramp and low-cost solution. It compounds Q-Cells’s belief that it needs to ramp thin-film aggressively to keep pace with market leader First Solar and a growing number of new amorphous silicon thin-film entrants using both Applied Materials and Oerlikon Solar technology.

Q-Cells plans also reinforce the belief in the U.S. utility-scale market being a major user of thin-film technology going forward, as Mexicali is well located close to the border and a short distance from potential massive scale utility projects of the future.

The move by Q-Cells to locate just across the border and in that sense in First Solar’s backyard shouldn’t go unnoticed. First Solar has been very successful at winning utility-scale business in Germany, the largest market now and certainly for many more years. Silicon solar wafers have not been competitive at large-scale plants in Germany since First Solar reached mass production, a trend that would seem set to continue.

Q-Cells is also planning a major plant for silicon solar cells in Malaysia, following First Solar’s thin-film lead of good location and good incentives. Perfect for the emerging markets within Asia and a low-cost base to maintain margins in the future. The same would seem to be in place for Mexicali!

Q-Cells hasn’t yet said what thin film technology it will deploy in its Silicon Border complex. Indeed, it may not be just one type of technology as the company is heavily involved in the roll-out of several types of thin-film processes through pilot production programs.

However, the fact that it is thin film is the important factor and will put greater pressure on First Solar in the 2010 timeframe when both market and mass production are potentially aligned.

Q-Cells also has the benefit of being able, later in 2008, and certainly through 2009, to seed its entire thin-film technology array into U.S. utility-scale trials as its multiple 25MW facilities are all entering production in this timeframe.

Although Q-Cells has always made it clear that a wide range of PV technologies will all co-exist in the future as certain technologies are better for certain applications, it seems that they are taking thin film and the U.S. market extremely seriously. How seriously?

Well, $3.5 billion seems serious to me and more than anyone else is talking about within a single market and technology domain!


 

7 June 2022
The Renewable Energy Trading Summit is the only event in Europe dedicated to renewable energy trading and will bring together renewable power asset owners, investors, exchanges, intermediaries and large energy buyers to discover the future of power sales. This unique event is designed specifically for the most senior players and will provide an excellent forum for business deals, networking and learning. The energy transition is gathering pace with renewable energy attracting increasing sums of capital each year. Solar and wind deployment is increasing annually and governments are ever-more reliant on the renewables sector to stimulate moribund economies. Retirement of fossil fuel assets continues in the background. However, without subsidies and uncertainty around PPAs, renewable asset owners are heading into the wholesale markets to trade power but are they ready for the volatility in revenue this will entail?
9 June 2022
The proliferation of solar PV and other renewables is a cornerstone of the emerging new power system and, as a result, the solar industry has entered its fastest-growth period. This has become typified by surging demand for high-power PV modules that both produce more power and are more efficient than their predecessors. Providing a significant boost to power outputs, large-format modules have become a popular choice for customers the world over. Outdoor testing of modules is now providing empirical evidence of the benefits large-format modules produce, providing a crucial benchmark and invaluable data for customers to evaluate their module selection and procurement processes. In this PV Tech webinar, experts from TÜV Rheinland, CPVT and Trina Solar will discuss how to ensure science based and precision testing under field conditions, how empirical data is collected and analysed during TÜV Rheinland and CPVT’s outdoor testing, the empirical data behind a 670W module’s ultra-high power, and more.
14 June 2022
Join us in Napa to unlock the key to reliable PV module supply to the U.S. market in 2022 & 2023. We'll also be gathering the main players in the US solar market for some wine tasting!
15 June 2022
Consumers are turning to residential renewables in significant numbers, driven by a desire to be environmentally conscious and a wave of high power prices. But turning green requires easy-to-use and, above all, safe technologies that meet expectations. Huawei is committed to building efficient, safe, reliable and grid-supporting smart PV plants that also provide smart services to consumers, and its Residential Solution has been tailored to meet consumer demand. This webinar will demonstrate the full suite of technologies offered within the Huawei Residential Solution, including a smart energy controller, smart AC charger, and AI-powered energy storage solution, and detail how it can place power back in the consumer’s hands.
22 June 2022
The 11th edition of the Large Scale Solar Summit is coming to the US after 10 sell-out years in Europe! Designed as a meeting place for deal-making, we will not only discuss the most up to date topics and technologies but will also provide varied networking platforms so that developers, EPCs, manufacturers, asset owners, and investors can connect with possible clients and partners. In a year expected to break records for the solar market, join us in Texas to meet with the top players in the industry and expand your network as business booms.
19 July 2022
As New South Wales is gearing up to become a renewable energy superpower, an exciting clean energy event is coming to Sydney. Energy Next is a free-to-attend industry event focusing on the latest renewable energy and energy management technologies, which will be held from 19-20 July 2022 at the ICC Sydney in Darling Harbour. Organised by the same people behind the country’s largest clean energy event, All-Energy Australia, Energy Next will bring a quality exhibition and technical session series to NSW. Energy Next will also host the Clean Energy Council’s Solar Masterclass with a program developed for solar designers and installers. Across two days, Energy Next will provide an extensive exhibition, workshops and networking opportunities for those working in the renewable energy industry to meet with leading suppliers, discover the latest technologies and gain an understanding of how to successfully launch new clean energy projects.

Read Next

May 27, 2022
Solar O&M solutions provider Ecoppia is navigating ongoing component shortages while expending its operations into new geographies and ramping up production of its latest PV panel cleaning robot.
May 27, 2022
The CEO of US solar and energy storage developer Borrego has said the company’s project development business will be less capital constrained under the new ownership of investment firm ECP, following a deal announced earlier this week to spin off and sell the unit.
May 26, 2022
US solar and energy storage developer Borrego will spin off and sell its development business, including its more than 8.4GW PV project pipeline, to investment firm ECP.
May 26, 2022
Danish developer Better Energy has partnered with Finish solar company Forus to develop more than 1GW of solar PV in Finland.
May 26, 2022
Leading solar manufacturers have implored governments to implement tax credits and other financial incentives to stimulate domestic PV manufacturing.
May 26, 2022
Spanish utility Iberdrola will invest €3 billion (US$3.2 billion) in green hydrogen, the company’s chairman, Ignacio Galán, has announced as he called for a stable European framework to boost investment in the technology.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
June 7, 2022
Leonardo Royal London City, London, UK
Solar Media Events
June 14, 2022
Napa, USA
Solar Media Events
June 22, 2022
Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol, Austin, Texas