Q CELLS back in the game

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email

The list of companies that went bankrupt, restructured, consolidated or exited the PV industry up and down the value chain over the last two years is a long one.

One of the major bankruptcies was Q-Cells. The manufacturer had made all sorts of attempts at business restructuring, but pesky bondholders brought proceedings to an end and a Korean conglomerate ultimately took over the company.

Even when companies undertake a successful restructuring the challenge afterwards is not that they regain bankability but often the more subtle but no less critical restoration of credibility, not least if the company is a PV manufacturer.

Fast forward over a couple of years and Hanwha Q CELLS is on much stronger financial foundations and is riding the boom in the industry once again.

In mid-May this year, the company issued a press release claiming that it had reached a positive operating result in the first quarter of 2014 and was now “the largest European PV provider”.

It should be immediately pointed out that the company has not been public since being sold through receivers so claims of financial performance are not transparent.

However, the fact that the company also noted claimed shipments of 247MW and a module production volume of 244MW in the first quarter of 2014 is welcome; even though unverifiable, the figures are the first the company has publically provided since its takeover, a sure sign that things must being going well.

Indeed the shipment figures (believed to include module tolling by sister company Hanwha SolarOne in China), suggest Q CELLS’ production utilisation rates are high and suggest facilities in Malaysia and Germany are probably close to running at full capacity.

Though the 244MW production figure for Q1 suggest the company is at its 1GW annual run rate, additional capacity is being added in Malaysia with equipment ordered (de-bottlenecking mainly), nameplate capacity is expected to reach 1.3GW mid this year.

It comes as no surprise that Hanwha Q CELLS CEO, Charles Kim, said that the company had “successfully managed the turnaround and today is the largest European Photovoltaics provider”.

I would have to agree with the turnaround aspect but will leave the PR spin based on meaningless metrics for others to debate. A more meaningful metric was the fact the company said it had increased its workforce to 1,350, up from 1,225 previously.

Returning to full capacity not only provides the company with greater revenue but it was quite clear at Intersolar Europe that booming business has given the company renewed optimism and confidence.

This was typified by Kim when speaking with PV Tech during Intersolar Europe, the first time the executive has been made available to press since taking charge of the company in October 2012.

Kim reiterated that shipment growth was confirmation of the turnaround in the company’s fortunes and said the company had the capacity to expand to meet future demand.

The CEO noted that its focus on high-efficiency modules and rooftop markets was paying off, as confirmed by Japanese PV magazine, Solvisto, which recently said that the company was the top foreign PV provider in Japan.

“Our high-efficiency Quantum cell technology enables customers to maximise self-consumption and maximise returns, especially in key markets such as Japan,” noted Kim.

Kim pointed to key rooftop markets as the UK, Germany and across Europe as well, and emphasised that rooftops markets would continue to be strong markets for the company.

However, when asked about the possible new business opportunities open to the company pending the outcome of the latest round of anti-subsidy and anti-dumping investigations into Chinese producers by the US, Kim was more cautious in his remarks.

“I guess we will be waiting and seeing,” responded Kim, recognising that the US has been a good market for the company in the past, notably in downstream PV project business.

Kim wouldn’t be drawn on the idea of either expanding capacity in Malaysia or building a new plant to meet potential increased US market demand, especially as the company under different management had planned to build a plant in Mexico to do just that.

That said, Kim was confident that the company had the ability to expand to meet demand, especially in the rooftop space.

“Our high-efficiency Quantum cell technology enables customers to maximise self-consumption and maximise returns, especially in key markets such as Japan,” noted Kim. Image: Hanwha QCELLS
Busy trade at Q CELLS booth at the recent Intersolar Europe event. Image PV Tech
10 November 2021
The solar tracker market continues to mature at breakneck speed, with designs and component selections becoming ever-more complex in the pursuit of better project economics. But a more simplistic design could deliver a triple benefit of lower Capex, EPC and Opex costs. This webinar will set out the ideal single axis tracker design for utility-scale solar farms. The design leapfrogs from decades of experience, with a comprehensive understanding and attention to the three cost structures of Capex, EPC and Opx. Sun and Steel Solar has prototyped a single axis tracker designed to deliver up to US$0.03/W in real savings compared to existing single axis trackers on the market. That’s US$30 million for every gigawatt deployed.
15 November 2021
The 10th edition of the famous Metallization and Interconnection Workshop, MIW2021, will take place in the Thor Central venue in Genk, Belgium, on Monday, November 15, and Tuesday, November 16, 2021 as a face-to-face meeting. We are longing for direct exchange of knowledge and ideas after a long time. Hopefully you can be part of it! But of course, the organizors will keep an eye on the evolution of the Covid pandemic. It will be assess carefully, whether the workshop can be held without major risks or excessive restrictions. We are looking forward to exciting talks, discussions and meetings and to welcoming you in Genk!
23 November 2021
The solar, storage and EV industries in the UK are going from strength to strength. There is no better place for the community to meet, share ideas and do business than Solar & Storage Live from 23-25 November at the NEC.There’s something for everyone; more than 150 exhibitors, a high-level conference, a start up and innovation zone, a poster zone, strategic partners to network with and much more. 
1 December 2021
Understand fully the technical and logistical supply chains that determine the production and performance of solar modules, including all related factors impacting quality, reliability & bankability. This event will be run online with streamed content, access to session recordings and chat/messaging tools for delegates to connect.
2 December 2021
Intersolar is the world’s leading exhibition & conference series for the solar industry. As part of this event series, Intersolar India in Mumbai is India’s most pioneering exhibition and conference for India’s solar industry. It takes place annually and has a focus on the areas of photovoltaics, PV production and solar thermal technologies. Since 2019, Intersolar India is held under the umbrella of The smarter E India – India’s innovation hub for the new energy world.
13 January 2022
Intersolar North America and Energy Storage North America “Come Together” for the first time in Long Beach, CA—connecting installers, developers, utilities, technology providers, policy makers, and key stakeholders from around the world to advance the clean energy future. With best-in-class conference programming, integrated exhibits and pavilions, and the live Solar Games installer competition, #isnaesna21 will showcase the industry trends, innovative solutions, and emerging talent transforming the solar, energy storage, and e-mobility markets. Register today to redeem our exclusive offer for PV Tech readers—free expo hall or 20% off full conference pass.

Read Next

October 25, 2021
Global renewables industries are expectant as COP26 looms, however supply chain volatility has continued to dent deployment prospects going into a crucial decade. We discuss this and much more in this month's Solar Media Podcast.
October 25, 2021
NextEra Energy Partners (NEP) has agreed to buy a 50% stake in a 2.5GW renewables portfolio and enter into a US$824 million convertible equity portfolio financing that includes the acquired assets
October 25, 2021
Despite delays and supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19, global solar PV employment increased by 6% last year to reach nearly 4 million, according to a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
October 25, 2021
Europe’s leaders have called on the European Investment Bank (EIB) to investigate how to speed up investment in the energy transition to reduce the risk of future energy price crises.
October 25, 2021
South African public utility Eskom has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with mining companies Exxaro and Seriti Resources to help decarbonise their operations by deploying solar PV
October 25, 2021
Oil and gas company Galp has secured loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to support the construction of more than 2.1GWp of solar projects across Spain and Portugal.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
November 10, 2021
8am (PST) | 5pm (CET)
Solar Media Events
December 1, 2021