Q CELLS: monocrystalline solar panels

Q CELLS is a manufacturer of photovoltaic solar panels that has developed a product range aimed primarily at homeowners (but which is also intended for buildings in general). Its models use monocrystalline cells with half-cut technology and other innovations.

Innovative Q CELLS technologies

Q CELLS offers a number of specific innovations, which are worth developing here:

  • Q CELLS is said to have pioneered the development of PERC cells, being the first company to commercialize them in 2012. It is said to have innovated again recently in this field with the Q.ANTUM NEO cell. These would not have a conventional passivation layer (PERC), but a special layer that would improve the transmission of electrical charges. They would also use P-type rather than N-type silicone.
  • Anti-degradation technologies
    • They would also have a technology enabling cells to better withstand high heat (75°C), which they call“Advanced Anti-PID” (APT), PID standing for “potential-induced degradation”. This is a phenomenon in which voltage differences appear between module frames and solar cells, leading to the appearance of surface currents that reduce cell performance.
    • Similarly, light-induced degradation (LID) in P-type solar cells, caused by “unstable boron-oxygen bonds”, can reduce efficiency by up to 6%. Q CELLS is said to have an “ANTI-DIL” technology to prevent this.
    • Another technology, called “Advanced Anti-LeTID” (ALD), would combat this effect, which degrades cell performance, and which Q CELLS was the first to observe in 2015.
  • To limit the risk of fire, the company is said to have carried out research to prevent the appearance of “hot spots”. Their modules would thus have a guarantee, called “ Hot-Spot Protect “, that no hot spot would trigger a fire.
  • Finally, they laser-mark the cells, enabling them to be traced by a system known as Tra.Q.

Q CELLS solar panels

Q CELLS is a solar panel manufacturer offering monocrystalline and polycrystalline photovoltaic solar panels. They offer two ranges: Q.ANTUM DUO Z and Q TRON

Q.ANTUM DUO Z

Q.ANTUM DUO Z modules feature several interesting innovations:

  • An integrated power reflector, which recovers part of the light not absorbed, giving a 7% improvement.
  • Half-cell technology, for an improvement of 3%.
  • Zero gap” technology, to reduce the space between cells, for a 4% improvement.
  • An increase in the number of busbars (12 instead of 4) to limit ohmic losses, which would give a 2% improvement.
  • What appears to be a variant of Tiling Ribbon Technology: they use a round wire instead of a ribbon, which limits the shading created by 75, giving an additional 2.5% performance gain.

So it’s a bit peculiar: this technology actually concerns modules called “Q.PEAK DUO”. I haven’t seen any difference between the models, apart from dimensions and power (from 370 to 510W).

Q TRON

The range has two models, but I could only find the technical note for one: Q.TRON BLK-G1 SERIES, which ranges from 370 to 395W. It benefits from Q.ANTUM NEO. Original point: it’s particularly resistant to snow and wind (resistance is about 2 times that of most models I’ve seen). It’s also particularly durable, retaining 90.58% of its performance after 25 years (usually it’s more like 85).

Summary table :

RangeSeriesP.(W)YieldNOCTCoeff °C(1)(2)(3)(4)Dimensions
Q.ANTUM DUO ZML-G11S SERIES51021,50%430,3412250,586%2,092×1,134Half-cut ,
Q TRONQ.TRON BLK-G1 SERIES39522,00%430,325250,3390,581,717×1,045Half-cut , Zero gap
1: Manufacturing warranty; 2: Performance warranty 3: Maximum performance degradation after 1st year; 4: Estimated performance after 25 years ;NOCT = (Nominal Module Operating Temperature)

Other Q CELLS products

Q CELLS also offers related products:

  • A home charging station, the Q.HOME EDRIVE-G1.
  • Mounting structures(Q.MOUNT, Q.FLAT-G5 and Q.FLAT-G6, for different roof types)
  • Solar batteries :
    • Q.HOME CORE, a connected storage system with a 5kW inverter and a 6.86 kWh Samsung SDI battery
    • Q.HOME⁺ ESS HYB-G3:
  • “Q.OMMAND HOME” monitoring software and “Q.OMMAND PRO” installer software.

Q CELLS’ progress, financing and chronology

The company was founded in 1999 by Anton Milner, Reiner Lemoine, Holger Feist, and Paul Grunow in Thalheim, Germany, under the name Q-Cells. It began by producing polycrystalline cells, which it achieved in 2001. In 2005, Q-Cells was floated on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange under the symbol QCE, with some success. Lemoine died in 2006, and shortly afterwards two other founders (Fest and Grunow) returned to research, with only Milner remaining.

The company went through a crisis with the recession of 2008, its shares being divided by 4. A few months later, the solar market also collapsed. Qcells made a loss of 846 million euros in 2010 and filed for bankruptcy on April 3, 2011. In August 2012, a Korean conglomerate, the Hanwha Group, bought Qcells. In 2015, it relocates production outside Germany.

In 2018, one of the conglomerate’s entities (Hanwha Solar Holdings) bought out and absorbed QCELLS for $825m, to become a private company. The merger led to Hanwha Q CELLS being delisted from NASDAQ.

In the meantime, the company has been renamed Hanwha Q CELLS.

According to 2020 financial data, Q CELLS has shipped over 14 GW of solar modules worldwide since its inception.