Q-Cells to use non-blended metallurgical silicon at new Malaysian fab

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Q-Cells
CEO Anton Milner said during a conference call with financial analysts
that the major solar-grade silicon supply deal signed with Becancour
Silicon, a division of Timminco, using purified metallurgical silicon
would be almost exclusively used at its new 300MW solar cell facility,
Line VII in Malaysia. The Malaysian facility is expected to start
production early in 2009.

The Malaysian facility would have an integrated ingot and wafering operation attached to the solar cell facility, specifically designed with proprietary processes that the company has developed to fully exploit metallurgical silicon for solar cell production.

Milner also said that its production facility in Thalheim, Germany, which had a 20MW capacity for using the metallurgical silicon, would be expanded to 80MW in 2008.

The Q-Cells CEO also alluded to the significant cost savings available by using metallurgical silicon instead of high-purity polysilicon. Milner said that “there is no comparison” and that the company would not be blending metallurgical silicon with polysilicon, further reducing material costs.

Commenting on polysilicon supply constraints, Milner noted that he believed fears about severe overcapacity in the coming years were dubious and that easing of supply conditions by 2010 were possible.

However, Milner said that Q-Cells had recently turned down a number of take or pay polysilicon deals it had been offered due to the expected fall in prices expected in the next few years. He also noted that the company was now able to be very flexible with silicon supply.

The new silicon supply deal with Becancour Silicon has allowed Q-Cells to increase its production targets for 2008. Q-Cells is now expecting crystalline solar production volumes of 570MW, compared to its previous projection of 540MW. Including expansion of its thin film production, total volumes are being set between 595 and 620MW in 2008.

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