In one swift move, Korean business conglomerate Hanwha Group has officially positioned itself as the third largest solar manufacturer in the world. With the purchase of bankrupt solar cell manufacturer Q.CELLS, the newly launched entity – appropriately named Hanwha Q.CELLS – now claims ownership of a total of 2.3 gigawatts of manufacturing capacity across Germany, Malaysia and China. That multinational position also puts Hanwha in the unique position of being able to deliver supply to any region in the world without concern over trade sanctions.
For Hanwha, the purchase of Q.CELLS and the launch of its new solar-specific entity is part of the company’s efforts to deepen its involvement in solar and bring about significant advancements in technology. In addition to acquiring 200-megawatt cell and 120-megawatt module manufacturing facilities in Germany, Hanwha has also acquired 34 Q.CELLS patents and 1,225 employees, all of which will likely aid in the achievement of this aim.
In a press release issued Wednesday, Ki-Joon Hong, CEO of Hanwha SolarOne and vice chairman of Hanwha Chemical, said the company’s 60-year track record of industrial leadership puts it in a position to become “a global leader in addressing the energy challenges of a dynamic global economy.” Hong added, “Our commitment to solar extends beyond building a successful business. We are dedicated to making solar the most reliable source of energy on Earth.”
Shyam Mehta, senior solar analyst for GTM Research, said, “For the last couple of years, Hanwha Group has really demonstrated a commitment and aggressiveness to PV that shows solar is important to their overall corporate growth strategy. They’ve also made some really interesting moves in terms of launching a number of differentiated product lines, like panels incorporating micro inverters and modules that use thin silicon technology.”
According to Mehta, it’s anybody’s guess exactly which of those differentiated product lines and technologies will win out – a fact that makes Hanwha’s wide-scale approach to solar energy all the more prudent. “I think it’s the right thinking on the part of Hanwha to have a diversified portfolio of investments, and to not put all their eggs in one basket,” Mehta said. “The company has basically said ‘We’re serious about solar, we have a long term investment vision, so we’re going to do whatever it takes to be a leader in this space.’”
Newly named Hanwha Q.CELLS CEO Charles Kim cited “synergies” between the two companies that, in his words, “offer a rare opportunity to quickly build a world-leading solar company.”
In addition to the aforementioned manufacturing facilities in Germany, the patents, and a well-skilled employee workforce, Hanwha Group has also acquired Q.CELLS’ administrative operations and R&D facilities in Germany, an 800 megawatt cell manufacturing facility in Malaysia, and other entities throughout the U.S., Australia, and Japan.
Hanwha Group’s move stands in stark contrast to actions taken recently by Siemens AG and Sharp, both of which this year announced their individual divestments of their solar energy endeavors. “I think it’s a totally different situation,” Mehta said. “Siemens and Sharp both took a look in the mirror and said ‘We don’t have a competitive edge, so let’s cut our losses and walk away.’ On the other hand, Hanwha decided to make some aggressive moves in the right direction.”
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