Under Q CELLS’ strategy to become a total energy solution company, Q CELLS is accelerating its targeting of the German electricity retail market. It currently offers key services including: Plant Lease, which eases companies’ burden of initial investment for solar system installation; Power Contract, which allows them to use the generated solar energy; and Direct Marketing, which directly trades surplus electricity via Q.ENERGY, which is an electricity retail business for the German market. With this, Q CELLS is now the first corporation that combines PV and green energy products.
Q.ENERGY, an Electricity Retail Business of Q CELLS
Germany is one of the top renewable energy powerhouses. In 2019, renewable energy generation accounted for about 46% while 19% of renewable energy came from PV generation. The country implemented the Renewable Energy Act to increase the portion of renewable electricity generation 20 years ago and welcomes all businesses that supply electricity stably to customers and comply with related regulations by switching its electricity market to a competition system.
Q CELLS achieved the top market share in the Germany solar module market in 2018 and won the Top Brand PV award in the solar energy category of the Life & Living Award. With its sound business foundation in the German market, in February this year, Q CELLS launched a solar energy retail business, Q.ENERGY, under a strategy to become a total energy solution corporation.
Selling generated electricity that is transmitted and distributed to different regions to general homes is an actively operated business in Germany. There are about 900 retail businesses in Germany and four major retailers account for about 45% of the market.
Q CELLS, a renewable energy supplier, claims to be Green Premium. With the decrease in solar LCOE (levelized cost of electricity), the price gap with traditional energy, such as thermoelectric and nuclear power, has gradually eased, while global interest and policies towards low carbon are expanding. Green Premium will make Q CELLS more competitive in the electricity retail market.
Corporate PPA - Power Contract & Plant Lease Lowered Solar Energy Entry Barriers
Companies in Germany are meeting the government’s energy transition policy (Energiewende) goals and easing the burden of production cost due to the increase in electricity tariffs by installing electricity generators on the rooftops of their buildings. However, the planning and capital-intensive investment required for solar system installation make it difficult for many SMEs to use solar systems. Q CELLS offers Power Contract and Plant Lease services that allow companies to benefit from solar energy at low cost without investment, while installing a PV system on the roof of their buildings at Q CELLS’ own expense.
Under a Power Contract, Q CELLS holds the ownership and operational rights to the PV system. Electricity generated from a PV system installed at a client site is preferentially supplied, and the client pays electricity tariffs on use. Q CELLS supplies electricity from 100% green energy sources generated in Germany or Austria when more energy is needed, while it sells surplus electricity to the wholesale market.
Under a Plant Lease, Q CELLS holds ownership, while a client holds the operational rights to the PV system. Energy generated from the PV system is considered self-consumption, and the client pays a monthly lease fee to Q CELLS. As with the power contract, Q CELLS supplies electricity while selling surplus electricity to the wholesale market.
SMEs in Germany now can enjoy stable, TÜV-certified green electricity supply. They also can reduce a sizeable portion of the transmission fee, tax and electricity charge through the Power Contract service or Plant Lease service of Q CELLS.
Companies are a powerful force for solar energy growth and energy transition in Germany. Even considering the reduced PV generation cost, the undiscovered potential of the solar market is enormous. Thus, lowering the barriers to entry into solar energy for companies is Q CELLS’s goal under corporate PPAs (Power Purchase Agreement). It has launched Power Contract & Plant Lease services for SMEs in Germany and plans to expand its client base to large enterprises starting in 2021.
Creating Profit from the Sun, Direct Marketing
Surplus electricity generated from a 100 – 740 kWp PV system must be traded via Direct Marketing (sold to electricity company, direct customers or power exchange) according to the EEG (Renewable Energy Act) in Germany. Complying with this regulation comes at great expense and a complicated process, because PV system operators have to find contractors separately for direct marketing in the power exchange market and for system installation. These inconveniences restrain many companies from using solar energy. Q CELLS has introduced its Direct Marketing service to make solar energy accessible for all businesses.
Q CELLS Direct Marketing service is very simple. A company first uses as much solar energy as possible from its own PV system at low cost and sells any surplus power generated to Q CELLS. Q CELLS sells that power to the power exchange and pays the revenue, minus a service fee, back to the PV system operator. Moreover, the company also can take advantage of the related market premium paid by the government to PV system commercial operators. Equipment necessary for Direct Marketing can be supplied from Q CELLS or other suppliers.
Wartner Holzbau GmbH & Co. KG is a wood construction company based in Bogen, Bavaria, Germany, and is benefiting from Q CELLS Direct Marketing service. The construction company installed Q CELLS PV system on its building roof with the help of Q.PARTNER ZEWO Energy. The installed 720 Q CELLS solar modules not only generate 250MWh electricity annually, but also help to reduce CO2 emissions by 126t annually. All electricity generated is supplied to the power grid.
Q CELLS is in charge of the direct marketing of Wartner Holzbau and also is responsible for all services related to the sale of generated electricity and maintenance. Under the service agreement, the company makes a profit from the sale of self-generated green energy while contributing to the energy transition of the government and to combating climate change.
Robert Wartner, Managing Director of Wartner Holzbau, commented, “We had been dealing with the question of how we could profit from solar energy in our company for some time. ZEWO Energy then gave us comprehensive advice and recommended Q CELLS as our partner for solar modules and direct marketing service. Now our new solar plant is an integral part of the company’s value chain. At the same time, we are thus actively involved in climate protection and are contributing to the rapid energy turnaround in our country. I think that’s great.”
Patrick Zeitler, Managing Director of ZEWO Energy, explained why ZEWO Energy partnered with Q CELLS, saying, “The solar installation with direct marketing by Q CELLS is a very sensible way for Wartner Holzbau to generate additional income from its company buildings. For us as project planners, quality and good service are the most important factors when planning and installing the system. This is why we have chosen Q CELLS as our partner.”
Companies in Germany are becoming more competitive by reducing energy expenses through solar power generation. Now, they need a partner that can make the energy transition towards solar power easier with the best quality, integrated service from solar module to system operation. Q CELLS is striving to lead the global renewable energy industry through supply of PV systems as well as eco-friendly energy and hopes to become a confident solar partner of the economic community in Germany.