German Solar PV Firm Increases to 320 MW

Q-Cells, one of the largest producers of solar cells in Europe, announced they would boost their current manufacturing from 170 MW a year to a total of 320 MW, putting them in-line to be one of the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) producers in the world, and the largest manufacturer in Europe.

The increase to 320 MW represents a formidable growth for the company since they were, collectively, only producing 28 MW in 2003 — the 10th position in the world. This latest boost could put them among the top manufacturers. No doubt, Germany’s excellent feed-in tariff for solar energy production has helped stoke PV sales for the growing company. Q-Cells began production on the new PV manufacturing line weeks ago and anticipates the increased capacity to create 100 new jobs. The new PV facility should be up and running by the second quarter of 2005. The company is based in Thalheim, Sachsen-Anhalt in Eastern Germany. Their production line has been designed to produce high performance cells and to handle formats of 150 or 156 mm cells. The company currently produces 6-inch cells but are on their way to expanding their product line. This past spring, Q-Cells introduced a new 8-inch multi-crystalline silicon PV cell. The performance generated by this solar cell with its edge length of 210 mm is 97 percent higher than that of the 6-inch cell – the current standard product, according to the company. This new cell will be launched in a commercial scale in the first quarter of 2005. The production technology is based on fully automated multi-batch processes, in order to deliver maximum reliability and redundancy in the event of single machine down-time.

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