Q-cells solar firm loses finance head as results continue to slide

Germany’s biggest solar panel company Q-cells lost its finance chief as it announced even worse results than had been expected on Monday, confirming the collapse of its business after a boom year in 2010.

Q-cells solar firm loses finance head as results continue to slide
Photo: DPA

Hopes of a German manufacturing renaissance led by Green technology will not be boosted by the unremitting gloom from Q-cells which was last year the tenth biggest solar panel manufacturer in the world.

The third quarter of this year saw turnover down to €228.8 million, little more than half of the €402 million in the same period last year. The 2010 third quarter profit of €36.7 million had been turned into an operating loss of €47.3 million, the company announced on Monday.

Analysts had expected a clear downturn in turnover, but not such a large one. Chief Financial Officer Marion Helmes also announced on Monday she was leaving the firm on her own request.

Turnover of around €1 billion for the full year is still expected, while the operating result is expected to be a three-digit million loss.

Q-cells was launched on the German TecDax stock index at the end of 2005, and from 2007 has been in the green Dax, the Handelsblatt reported on Monday. By the end of that year, its share price had rocketed from €20 to €80, and then in the summer of 2008, to a peak of more than €97.

The company was considered a great example of how to run a new green-tech company. A dip on the stock markets in 2009 turned into a collapse through the whole of the following year, landing at less than €2.50 a share in December 2010.

And despite a good business year in 2010, including a return to profit and an end of year balance sheet that exceeded its own as well as analysts’ expectations, the share prices refused to recover, hitting lows of €0.50 in March 2010.

The company’s performance followed its share prices down, and this year fell into loss, despite an increase in sales. Analysts have started talking about a possible bankruptcy, while last month 250 jobs were cut at the company’s headquarters.

The Local/DPA/hc

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German government announces fresh relief package for high energy costs

With Russia's invasion in Ukraine exacerbating high energy and petrol prices, Germany is set to introduce a second relief package to limit the impact on consumers.

German government announces fresh relief package for high energy costs

The additional package of measures was announced by Economy and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) on Sunday.

Speaking to DPA, Habeck said the wave of price increases throughout the energy sector were becoming increasingly difficult for households to bear.

“Extremely high heating costs, extremely high electricity prices, and extremely high fuel prices are putting a strain on households, and the lower the income, the more so,” he said. “The German government will therefore launch another relief package.”

The costs of heating and electricity have hit record highs in the past few months due to post-pandemic supply issues. 

This dramatic rise in prices has already prompted the government to introduce a range of measures to ease the burden on households, including abolishing the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) levy earlier than planned, offering grants to low-income households and increasing the commuter allowance. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What Germany’s relief package against rising prices means for you

But since Russia invaded neighbouring Ukraine on February 24th, the attack has been driving up energy prices further, Habeck explained.

He added that fears of supply shortages and speculation on the market were currently making the situation worse. 

How will the package work?

When defining the new relief measures, the Economics Ministry will use three criteria, Habeck revealed. 

Firstly, the measures must span all areas of the energy market, including heating costs, electricity and mobility. 

Heating is the area where households are under the most pressure. The ministry estimates that the gas bill for an average family in an unrenovated one-family house will rise by about €2,000 this year. 

Secondly, the package should include measures to help save energy, such as reducing car emissions or replacing gas heating systems.

Thirdly, market-based incentives should be used to ensure that people who use less energy also have lower costs. 

“The government will now put together the entire package quickly and constructively in a working process,” said Habeck.

Fuel subsidy

The three-point plan outlined by the Green Party politician are not the only relief proposals being considered by the government.

According to reports in German daily Bild, Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FPD) is allegedly considering introducing a state fuel subsidy for car drivers.

The amount of the subsidy – which hasn’t yet been defined – would be deducted from a driver’s bill when paying at the petrol station. 

The operator of the petrol station would then have to submit the receipts to the tax authorities later in order to claim the money back. 

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, fuel prices have risen dramatically in Germany: diesel has gone up by around 66 cents per litre, while a litre of E10 has gone up by around 45 cents.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The everyday products getting more expensive in Germany

As well as support for consumers, the government is currently working on a credit assistance programme to assist German companies that have been hit hard by the EU sanctions against Russia.

As reported by Bild on Saturday, bridging aid is also being discussed for companies that can no longer manage the sharp rise in raw material prices.

In addition, an extension of the shorter working hours (Kurzarbeit) scheme beyond June 30th is allegedly being examined, as well as a further increase in the commuter allowance.