Pushing the ‘reset button’ on its business model and plans for the future may still be a work in progress at Q-Cells after racking up losses of €1.35 billion in 2009. Preliminary financial figures for last year show revenue declined considerably compared to 2008. A reduction in capacity coupled to general industry price declines of between 50 and 55% for c-Si cells and 35 to 50% declines for c-Si modules impacted results. Sales reached €801 million in 2009, compared to €1,251 million in 2008.
As the company consolidated manufacturing and pushed-back on new technologies production capacity fell 4% to 551MW, compared to 574MW achieved in 2008. However, Q-Cells plans to boost capacity at its lower cost plants in Malaysia and continue its CIGS thin film ramp at Solibro to take capacity from 30MW to 135MW in 2010. Total capacity could reach 1.235GW in 2010 with 600MW capacity in Malaysia, 500MW in Germany and the 135MW contribution from CIGS thin film production.
“We are focusing on our competitive core technologies in the area of crystalline silicon and thin-film modules made by Solibro,” commented Anton Milner, Chairman of Q-Cells SE. “Other new technologies such as Calyxo need a little more time to become competitive. Against this background, we have taken precautions to protect Q-Cells against future eventualities. In view of the fundamental changes in the solar market, this trend is unavoidable and is also likely to affect other players in the industry.”
Fourth quarter sales reached €251 million, up 36% from €184 million in the previous quarter.
“The operating income for the fourth quarter shows that our restructuring plans are already paying off. During 2010, the reorganisation plans will bear more fruit and lead to significant and long-term savings. In addition to the cost side, we are working intensively on enhancing our business model. Q-Cells will change fundamentally within a year,” noted Milner. “Wafer purchasing prices, which had a significant negative impact on the earnings situation last year, have been agreed on a much more flexible basis and in line with market conditions for 2010. Further cost reductions in cell production have been and will be achieved by closing the older production lines in Germany and extending production capacity in Malaysia.”
According to the company, its PV systems integration arm, Q-Cells International was the largest PV system installer globally in 2009.
Q-Cells noted that it was experiencing strong demand in the first half of the year, but continued price and margin pressure was expected due to the supply/demand balance and regulatory market related changes in the German feed-in tariff.