By Jason Simpkins
German solar cell maker Q-Cells announced strong full year results and said it plans to expand its production capacity by investing $263.2 million in its first production site in Asia.
Q-Cells said in February that it had become the world's leading manufacturer of solar cells. In its 2007 preliminary results, the company reported full year sales of $1.26 billion, a 59% jump.
"This is impressive since wafer sourcing costs increased while cell selling prices declined. This shows that Q-Cells is very capable of reducing production costs and we see much more still to come," Benjamin Kluftinger, an analyst at Citigroup Inc. (C) told Reuters.
"With this figure, Q-Cells would already have produced a greater total output than its largest competitors Sharp and Suntech," the company said in its statement.
Q-Cells also said it would add to that production with a new facility in Malaysia, which is expected to have a maximum capacity of more than 300 megawatts. The first phase of construction, with a capacity of 160MW, is scheduled to come online in the first quarter of 2009.
Solar companies around the world are increasing production capacity to meet soaring demand for green technology to combat global warming.
Sharp is trying to raise its annual output of thin-film solar cells six-fold by 2012 to beat silicon shortages. It has planned a new plant in Osaka, Japan, which is scheduled to go online by March 2010. The company expects the plant to have a maximum of output of 1,000MW a year. Sharp also hopes to raise output of its Katsuragi plant in Nara, Japan, from 15MW to 160 MW in October.
Sharp also announced last month that it would team with Daiwa House Industry Co. Ltd. and Dai Nippon Printing Co. Ltd. to develop large lithium-ion batteries that can store solar energy for houses. The deal will help Sharp build upon its solar power systems business and let Japanese homebuilder Daiwa House increase the value of its homes with energy saving technologies the Nikkei Business Daily reported.
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