Hanwha Q-Cells Able to Compete With China Solar Makers on Cost

Hanwha Q-Cells GmbH Chief Executive Officer Charles Kim said the company can compete with Chinese solar-cell makers whose output drove a slump in world prices.

“I know very well the cost structure of the Chinese players and our cost structure in Malaysia is very similar,” Kim said today in a phone interview. The Malaysian plant is currently being expanded to 1.1 gigawatts of capacity.

Hanwha, also producing in Thalheim, Germany, will focus on selling in “premium” markets in Europe and Japan and develop and sell power plants worldwide to raise profitability, he said.

German solar companies face state-aid cuts and competition from Chinese peers like JA Solar Holdings Co. and Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. that created a global glut. Hanwha Q-Cells was formed after Q-Cells filed for protection from creditors, like at least 15 other producers, and was bought by Hanwha Group. Q-Cells was once the world’s biggest solar-cell maker.

Hanwha brought its Asian sales network and the industrial group’s financial strength to the deal in August 2012, Kim said.

Hanwha Q-Cells, expecting Japan to add 6 gigawatts of solar panels this year and China at least 10 gigawatts to raise world demand by 20 percent, is seeking to boost module sales in Japan from last year’s 250 megawatts, he said. It plans to develop 100 megawatts of solar plants in Japan, from 30 megawatts last year.

“In Japan, the direction is clear that nuclear energy will be significantly reduced,” Kim said. “The Japanese government will continue to support renewable energy.”

The company expects to develop as much as 200 megawatts of solar-power plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico this year, he said. Hanwha Q-Cells “will soon announce” the details of a U.K. project already under construction, Kim said.

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