Thalheim/Frankfurt am Main, 27 March 2007 - Q-Cells AG, the world's second largest manufacturer of solar cells, has presented the 2006 Annual Report today, 27 March 2007, as part of its Accounting Press Conference. In so doing, the company from Thalheim in the rural district of Bitterfeld (SaxonyAnhalt) has confirmed the provisional figures it presented on 5 February 2007.
In 2006, Q-Cells AG produced solar cells with a total output of 253.1 MWp. This equates to an increase of 53% on the previous year. With this output the Company has strengthened its position as the world's No. 2 with a market share of approximately 10% and further reduced the gap between it and the Japanese market leader Sharp. Sales rose by 80% to EUR 539.5 million (2005: EUR 299.4 million), operating income (EBIT) and net income for the period (without one-off effect) grew even more strongly by 105% and 120% to EUR 129.4 million and EUR 87.7 million respectively (previous year: EUR 63.2 million and EUR 39.9 million respectively). In addition, Q-Cells posted a one-off extraordinary contribution to earnings of EUR 9.4 million as a result of accounting for the increased share in EverQ for the first time, so that net income for the period amounts to EUR 97.1 million in total.
Expansion of production capacity is accelerated
In view of the contracts for the supply of large quantities of metallurgical silicon, which were also concluded with the Norwegian company Elkem Solar at the beginning of February, Q-Cells AG is accelerating the expansion of its production capacity markedly. Production line V, which is under construction, will reach a nominal capacity of 225 MWp (which equates to a production capacity of 180 MWp) by the year-end 2007 by bringing forward construction of a third expansion phase. As a result, Q-Cells AG's total nominal capacity will rise sharply to total 645 MWp (production capacity 516 MWp) at the year-end 2007. "We shall have more than half a gigawatt of production capacity by the end of the year and will further expand our position on the global market", says Anton Milner, CEO of Q-Cells AG. "As a result, we shall prove yet again that by concentrating on cell production, we are able to react very rapidly to changes in the market situation. We are expanding capacity now in which we shall be able to process the additional quantities of silicon that Elkem will supply from 2008."
Planning for line VI, which – with a nominal capacity of 300 MWp (which equates to a production capacity of 240 MWp) – will bring Q-Cells AG substantially closer to the 1 GWp threshold, is already underway.
Further rapid growth in staff numbers – expansion of R&D expertise
Because of this marked expansion in production capacity, Q-Cells AG will create many new jobs in Thalheim in 2007. In total some 500 new employees and, in addition, 50 new trainees will be appointed – in the core business alone. Just as many staff will also be employed at subsidiaries and affiliates.
Many of the new employees will strengthen the Technology department, which will be increased from approximately 100 to around 180 employees at the year-end. As a result, Q-Cells will again boost its research and development expertise significantly. The Company views this as crucial to reducing production costs and consequently to making photovoltaics a competitive option for electricity customers in the foreseeable future. This is why Q-Cells AG is constructing a Research and Development Centre just next to production line V, which will serve to develop and commercialize new generations of far more powerful cells.
Progress in new technologies
Within the framework of the Accounting Press Conference, the Executive Board of Q-Cells AG was also able to report on progress in the Company's thin-film operations. The construction of the first Solibro GmbH factory in Thalheim with a production capacity of 25 to 30 MWp was resolved last week by the Supervisory Board. The company, which was established in November 2006 as a joint venture with the Swedish company Solibro AB, will produce thin-film modules based on Copper-Indium-GalliumDiselenide (CIGS) technology. This technology offers a comparatively high potential efficiency rating and is particularly suitable for integration in façades, roofs and buildings thanks to its particularly attractive appearance.
Q-Cells AG has also decided to exercise its option to acquire 51% of the shares in VHF-Technologies SA in Yverdon-les-Bains (Switzerland). The company develops and produces flexible thin-film modules on a plastic substrate under the brand name "Flexcell". A pilot line in Switzerland with a capacity of 2 MWp produces flexible modules for consumer markets such as nautical or outdoor equipment. Capacity in Switzerland will be increased by 5 MWp in 2007, which will make Q-Cells the global market leader in the consumer applications market. However, the major objective of the involvement in VHFTechnologies is the development of industrial-scale production. The decision on construction of an initial production line in Thalheim with a capacity of 25 MWp will be reached by the middle of the year. The modules produced there are to be used in building-integrated photovoltaics.
The 2006 Annual Report and a current company presentation are available on Tuesday morning for download from the Investor Relations section of Q-Cells AG's website at www.q-cells.com.