Hanwha Q Cells focused on EU and Japan

While tier-one Chinese module manufacturers channel major volume into the fast-growing Chinese and emerging PV markets, the Germany-based Hanwha Q Cells is focusing primarily on Japan and the EU for sales.

Today, Hanwha Q Cells announced a deal to supply Portugal’s Martifer with 11 MW worth of modules for a PV power plant in the south of France, as part of a 30 MW supply deal for the EU.

At the recent Intersolar Trade Show, Hanwha Q Cells CEO Charles Kim told pv magazine that the firms strategy is to “dominate” PV markets in which it can charge a premium for its “high quality” modules.

“We are mainly focused on Europe and Japan,” said Kim. “Last year we were the number one foreign supplier in the PV market in Japan. We are not selling into developing markets because there are not premiums there; yet we are active in the power plants business in these markets using our own modules.”

Hanwha Q Cells targets orders of around 500 MW in Europe, with Germany accounting for around 150 MW and the booming UK market between 100 to 150 MW. The Hanwha Q Cells CEO also said that the firm can charge a premium of around 10% in EU markets.

Q Cells manufacturing operations, which were acquired by Korea’s Hanwha Group in October 2012, are set to be expanded modestly, to fulfill demand.

“We are running at 100% capacity, so we are in allocation mode. By the end of this month we will complete a 200 MW expansion in our Malaysia so our total production will be 1.3 GW,” said Kim.

In terms of its manufacturing operations, Kim said that the German production remains innovation focused, developing and turning out its next generation technology – such as its Quantum technology, which uses PERC cell architecture. By taking this approach, production costs are necessarily higher in its German manufacturing facility than in its Malaysian operations, due the process adjustments required. Labor and electricity costs also play a role in driving productions costs higher in Germany.

“We completely develop the production technology in Germany and we roll it out in Malaysia. So the German site is more about technology development and the commercialization of the new technology. It’s not only important for mass production,” said Kim.

Despite this approach, Hanwha Q Cells reports that it is running at a 100% utilization rate.