Q-Cells guides almost flat sales in 2011; CIGS modules achieve 13.4% new efficiency world record

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Although there were no specifics mentioned in the financial forecast for 2011 provided by Q-Cells as it announced full year financial results, sales are set to be at around the same level as last year. As previously reported, Q-Cells sales increased by 70% to €1.35 billion in 2010. In its annual report, 2011 sales guidance is between €1.3 billion and €1.5 billion.

Reductions in the feed-in tariffs in key markets such as Germany and Italy as well as other European markets will put pressure on pricing throughout the year. However, Q-Cells expects the PV market to grow in 2011, though at much reduced rates, with the possibility that market conditions could result in negative growth for the year.

“Our financial results show that our new strategic realignment in 2010 has begun successfully. With the creation of new business segments and the development of international markets, we have taken initial steps to position the company well for the challenges that are ahead of us,” commented Nedim Cen, chairman of Q-Cells SE. “The photovoltaic market will be significantly more demanding this year. We will continue to implement our strategy rigorously so that we remain able to offer competitive products and innovative solutions in the medium term also in a more difficult market environment.”

Q-Cells noted that first quarter demand had been “very weak,” due to the “regulatory situation and seasonal influences.”

The company noted that the priorities for this year were being placed on:

• Continued rigorous focus on the strategic realignment.
• Further strengthening and internationalization of sales.
• Continuous innovation through new products and high quality applications.
• Further process optimization and ongoing cost reductions.
• Support by highly qualified and motivated employees

As previously highlighted, Q-Cells is planning to increase production of solar cells and CIGS thin-film modules this year. Flextronics in Malaysia and Hanwha SolarOne in China are being used for module production expansions.

However, the emphasis is on high efficiency and quality aspects as it attempts to further differentiate its products in the residential and industrial sectors, which will be its focus in 2011.

Capital spending of between €100 million – €120 million is planned for 2011, primarily used to ramp second-generation cell technology. Plans for 2012 spending were said to be inline with spending for 2011.

The company separately announced that it has achieved a world efficiency record for mass-produced CIGS thin-film solar modules manufactured via monolithic integration of 14.7% (aperture area of 0,684 m²). The conversion efficiencies have also been verified by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) for its Q.SMART UF solar module, with an area of 0.75 m², reached a total area efficiency of 13.4%.

“In June 2010, Q-Cells achieved the previous efficiency world record of 13% with the same type of CIGS solar module out of series production,” noted Gerhard Rauter, COO of Q-Cells. “With this new record, 13.4%, Q-Cells proves one more time its technological leadership in the photovoltaic sector.”

Q-Cells also intends to transition its entire production capacities for crystalline solar cells to its second-generation technology, which have obtained cell efficiencies of 20% peak for monocrystalline based-cells, during the course of 2011.

Q-Cells will also produce multicrystalline solar cells in series with peak efficiencies of more than 17%.

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