SolarWorld expects US cell plant to reach 430MW of PERC production in Q2



Integrated PV module manufacturer SolarWorld said its Passivated Emitter Rear Cell (PERC) technology had proved a big hit in the US market and would reach 430MW of production capacity at its US-based plant in Hillsboro, Oregon, in the second quarter of 2015. 

SolarWorld had already upgraded around 330MW of cell production to PERC at its Hillsboro plant and expected a further 100MW to be migrated to PERC during the second quarter of this year.

Upgrades to PERC technology were said to have started at its plants in Freiburg and Arnstadt, Germany, in the first quarter of 2015. 

SolarWorld’s overall manufacturing strategy in 2015 is to increase production capacity to meet strong demand, notably in the US and harmonise cell production at all three plants to PERC processes. The company is targeting production above 1GW in 2015. 

The company noted that capital expenditures related to production expansion and upgrades at its German plants totalled €1.3 million (US$1.48 million) and €4.7 million at its Hillsboro plant in the US. 

Investments in plant, property and equipment totalled €9.3 million in the first quarter of 2015, up from €2.6 million in the prior year period.

Monocrystalline wafer production was also said to have restarted at the former Bosch facility in Arnstadt with one production unit. Three other units are expected to restart production, though the company did not provide timelines. 

SolarWorld had noted that monocrystalline modules using PERC cell technology had been in strong demand in the US as well as for its 72-cell product offering used in utility-scale projects. 

Q1 financials

SolarWorld reported groupwide shipments of solar power modules and kits of 202MW in the first quarter, 44% higher than the prior year period. The company noted that the increase in shipments was due to increased demand in the US, which accounted for 116MW of shipments, compared to only 43MW in the prior year period, accounting for 57% of quarterly shipments. 

“The signs point to growth. We will boost shipments and revenue, expand our capacities to this end and will further increase our efficiency and cost structure, not least by investing in new technologies,” stated Dr.-Ing. E. h. Frank Asbeck, CEO of SolarWorld AG. “On this basis, we will achieve a positive EBIT without potential one-off effects in the entire fiscal year 2015 as planned.” 

Revenue in the first quarter was €149.1 million, up 50% from the prior year period and down from €164.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2014. Consolidated earnings (EBITDA) increase to €2.9 million, up from €1.6 million in the prior year period. EBIT was negative €8 million.

SolarWorld reiterated total shipments would increase by at least 25% compared with 2014 and exceed 1GW for the first time. Revenue is also expected to increase by around 25% to above €700 million.

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