At the beginning of 2005, Q-Cells AG and Evergreen Solar, Inc. from Marlboro, Ma. (USA) established EverQ GmbH, a joint venture based in Thalheim for the production of solar modules using the String Ribbon process. Today, the Norwegian Renewable Energy Corporation ASA (REC) based in Høvik, the world's largest independent manufacturer of solar silicon and multicrystalline silicon wafers, will become the third partner in this joint venture. In this context, a supply agreement with a term of seven years was agreed, which commits REC to initially deliver 250 tonnes of solar silicon per year to EverQ. These initial deliveries will meet the feedstock needs of the first production plant of EverQ. In addition, REC is bound to offer significant additional feedstock volumes for the period from 2007 – 2014 to EverQ as soon as REC’s own capacity expansion allows this. By this the parties have laid the cornerstone for a strong and sustainable growth of EverQ.
REC has taken a 15 per cent share in the company. Q-Cells will then hold 21 per cent of EverQ (previously 24.9 per cent), while Evergreen Solar's share will fall from 75.1 to 64 per cent. The agreement also gives both Q-Cells and REC the opportunity to increase their share in EverQ to a maximum of 33.3 per cent. In the long term, the addition of REC as a partner in EverQ GmbH will bolster supplies of the raw material silicon in a special granular form, which will ensure that the company is able to grow at a rapid and sustainable rate. Rapid growth is an important prerequisite for ongoing cost reductions, a fact that applies to the solar industry as a whole.
The joint venture company will also benefit from REC's extensive experience and know-how in silicon wafer production. EverQ GmbH is currently constructing a manufacturing plant for solar cells and modules in Thalheim with an annual production capacity of 30 MWp. The String Ribbon™ process developed by Evergreen Solar will be used there, offering huge potential for lowering costs as it requires 30 per cent less silicon than conventional processes. EverQ is set to commence production in the second quarter of 2006. This will generate between 350 and 400 jobs in Thalheim, eastern Germany.
Anton Milner, CEO of Q-Cells AG said, “REC's decision to join EverQ strengthens the unique advantages that result from combining Evergreen Solar's proprietary technology with Q-Cells' know-how in the manufacturing of high-efficiency solar cells. The partnership with REC, one of the world's leading producers of silicon, will help us to develop EverQ into a leading supplier to the global solar energy market even faster and more effectively. We believe that the EverQ manufacturing plant in Thalheim will serve as a prototype for EverQ to move into other emerging markets worldwide.“