Q-Cells to cut 500 jobs

Reuters reported on 13 Aug 2009 that Q-Cells planned to slash about a fifth of its workforce to counter the effects of a price war.

* Around 500 jobs will be cut permanently while short-time work will continue to be in operation at the Thalheim plant. It currently employs about 2,600 staff.
* Q-Cells will review all investment projects.
* It expects the restructuring to cut production costs by 25%, necessary after Asian rivals cut prices.
* Q-Cells made a net loss of €696.9 million in H1 2009, caused by further writedowns on the sale of its stake in REC in May 2009.
* Q-Cells compatriot Phoenix Solar also said on 13 Aug 2009 that first half results were hit by price pressure but will stick with its 2009 forecast sales of €520 million.
* First Solar, which rivals Q-Cells as the world’s biggest maker of solar cells, has so far proved to be coping much better with the crisis (comment: why so?)
* The price war, mainly triggered by Asian competitors, has already forced some European players such as Ersol and REC to either consider or to already move production abroad.
* Q-Cells’ other major rivals, Sharp Corp and Kyocera, have remained relatively unscathed by the crisis, as their cell business only accounts for a small part of their businesses.
* Q-Cells CFO, Nedim Cen said that it has sufficient liquidity, with €520 million.

Here are five facts about the German solar industry:
* The German solar market is expected to become the world’s largest in 2009, overtaking Spain, as measured by megawatts of installation, according to industry association EPIA.
* Germany is home to industry bellwethers such as Q-Cells, one of the world’s largest maker of solar cells, solar inverter maker SMA Solar, and SolarWorld, which makes silicon and solar panels.
* Germany’s 15,000 solar companies (comment: 15,000?! who are they?) employed 70,000 people in 2008 and is expected to rise to 200,000 by 2020, according to German solar industry association BSW.
* Sales in the industry amounted to about €7 billion ($9.9 billion) in 2008, while the export quota of photovoltaic companies was 46%.
* According to BSW, photovoltaics will account for 1% of Germany’s power consumption this year, with that share seen rising to 25% by 2050.