In this interview, Sungsoo Lee, CSO of Hanwha SolarOne, talks about how Hanwha SolarOne provides best reliability and bankability after the strategic partnership between Hanwha and Solarfun Power Holdings.
Reported by Jeanny H. Lim (email@example.com)
Hanwha SolarOne is the product of a strategic partnership formed in 2010 between Hanwha (one of Korea’s top conglomerates) and China-based Solarfun Power Holdings, a leading manufacturer of photovoltaic modules. What brought this partnership and new identity?
Hanwha Group has a long history in the manufacturing industry and also it has strong financial powerhouse backed by Korea Life Insurance, the second largest insurer in Korea. We believed this strong point of Hanwha group could generate a strong synergy effect with aggregated PV technology of Solarfun. Through this partnership, Hanwha SolarOne can provide various financial solutions for customers and also increase the efficiency of production. In the PV industry, reliability and bankability are most important. Hanwha SolarOne can provide best reliability and bankability cooperation with Hanwha group and it will make Hanwha SolarOne to a most reliable partner for customers. As a proof, Hanwha ranked 358th on the 2010 Fortune 500 companies list and with a 60-year history.
What new directions will Hanwha SolarOne pursue?
We are committed to offering our customers innovative and reliable products with the ultimate goal of providing complete customer service satisfaction. We want to be the best partner for our customers with professionalism, accessibility, reliability, bankability and passion providing all solutions related to PV products.
What kinds of benefits can the PV industry expect from the partnership?
Hanwha SolarOne is a global energy company offering comprehensive vertical integration. We leverage the knowledge and expertise of Hanwha Chemical Corporation and the former Solarfun Power Holdings to increase the efficiency of production. With strong financial status of Hanwha group, Hanwha SolarOne can provide best reliability and bankability.
What is your competitive advantage over other PV players in the market?
Hanwha SolarOne Co., Ltd. is revamping the solar value chain by leveraging the experience and expertise of Hanwha Chemical and the former Solarfun Power Holdings. This provides us with unparalleled resources to deliver superior, top-quality value to our customers.
?A completely integrated production model, ensuring world-class quality modules and eliminating inefficiencies across the entire value chain.
-Economies of scale coupled with manufacturing excellence and a cost-competitive manufacturing base.
-Strong focus on R&D: streamlined manufacturing processes and innovative PV technologies.
-Creation of synergies through the ‘Hanwha Solar Network’, from the production of polysilicon to financial services.
-Global reach, local presence: Sales offices located throughout Europe, North America, Australia and Asia.
-Strong partners and global customer base: more than 80% of our customers are located in Europe and the U.S.
-Highly bankable, based on an extensive list of successful reference projects.
-Backed by the Hanwha Group, one of Korea’s largest enterprises, and their vision to become a top global PV player.
What is Hanwha SolarOne’s priority this year?
This year will be a difficult period for solar companies as a whole. To counteract this environment and win the race to be a leading PV company, we are endeavoring to keep our inventory on the proper level decreasing our operation rate because we noticed that the inventory level is very much critical to the performance of company. I think we were very successful.
However, the other side of the coin was that, because we underutilized, our unit cost has gone up a little bit. If you take a look at our second quarter reports, you will notice that our non-poly cost went up a little. However, we believe our inventory status is quite competitive in the market. At the end of the day, it will be helpful to increase the profit of company.
Besides, we are focusing on developing new markets with slowing European and U.S. market.
Sooner or later, we expect to get a fruit in emerging PV markets.
What’s Hanwha SolarOne’s roadmap for 2012 and beyond?
We will pay more attention to the emerging markets like Asia and Pacific regions and East Europe expanding our market share in those markets. Also we are accelerating technology development to reduce the LCOE accompanying with continuing capacity expansion.
What is your perspective on the market drivers for Hanwha SolarOne’s products at this time?
We believe the driver is LCOE of solar power. Recently polysilicon price dramatically dropped and oil price increased. This situation will make solar energy more competitive against fossil energy.
What does your global presence look like? Are there specific regional markets that Hanwha SolarOne plans to target?
Companies can create niche plays by focusing on emerging, unsaturated markets, and customize the product lines to create higher barrier of entry for other players. Europe is still our biggest region. We have also seen a lot of pickup in North America recently. We expect that trend will be slow for the next several quarters though. Two of our strategic regions and growth areas are North America and China.
Interestingly enough, we see some demands in Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia and India too, so we dispatched a research team there. Especially in Southeast Asia, we will be able to see some tangible results very soon in terms of supply agreements.
What are some of the major challenges for you going forward and how will you tackle them?
First of all, many governments are reducing their subsidy for solar energy due to financial crisis around the world and investment companies are also reducing the investment on solar energy. But because the economics of solar energy is increasing with low law material price and high oil price, this problem will be overcome soon.
Jeanny H. Lim is Editor-in-Chief of InterPV. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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