Quantum Fuel, Asola to partner with Q&Tech to build South Korean solar-module factory

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Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies and its German solar photovoltaic partner, Asola, have signed a memorandum of understanding with Korean partner Q&Tech to establish a joint-venture solar-module manufacturing plant in South Korea. The companies say the initial module-making capacity of the fab will be 30 MW-peak, with a potential to generate annual revenues of more than $100 million.

The manufacturing facility in Korea will use equipment, processes, and quality controls that are identical to Asola’s recently expanded state-of-the-art 45-MW facility in Germany. The modules, both mono- and multicrystalline, will be designed in Germany, with the silicon solar cells expected to be centrally purchased in Germany, to benefit from economies of scale, according to the partners.

“Our strategy is to associate with organizations that are established players in the solar industry or experienced high-volume manufacturers of similar products,” said Reinhard Wecker, founder/CEO of Asola.

“South Korea, with its ambitious target of 1-GW solar energy production by 2012, is one of the fastest growing solar energy markets in the world,” noted Alan Niedzwiecki, president/CEO of Quantum. “Expansion into Korea provides us a timely vehicle for accelerated growth, to complement the markets in Europe.”

“We were attracted to the Asola-Quantum team due to their automotive industry heritage and focus on innovation, precision engineering, and quality. We look forward to launching a solar production plant as soon as possible to participate in the accelerated solar energy market development in this country,” added Seo Sang Jo, CEO of Q&Tech/Yongsan.

Irvine, CA-based Quantum holds a 25% stake in Asola and has begun discussions related to an expanded partnership in a “Centralized Holding Structure.” Quantum and Asola have also entered into a long-term supply agreement with Ersol Solar Energy for the procurement of 155 MW of high-efficiency silicon cells, starting in 2008, as well as supply deals with Sunergy, Motech, and other manufacturers. The partners anticipate that resulting sales from these supply agreements will generate more than $600 million for Asola and Quantum.

— Tom Cheyney


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