June 12, 2012 / 11:14 AM / in 5 years

Canadian Solar CEO says production costs fell in second quarter

MUNICH (Reuters) - Canadian Solar (CSIQ.O), the world’s No.7 maker of solar cells, has made progress in the second quarter to further lower the cost of making solar panels, putting the group on track to reach its 2012 target, its chief executive said.

“Efforts are being made everywhere,” Shawn Qu told Reuters on Tuesday at Intersolar, the world’s largest solar trade show, adding that falling costs for silicon wafers and successful R&D in the area of cells and modules had paid off.

Qu said production costs were at 73 U.S. cents per watt in the first quarter but declined to say to what level they had declined since the beginning of April. Qu said the company aims for production costs of 55-60 cents per watt by the end of 2012.

Falling government subsidies for solar energy, oversupply and a subsequent fall in module prices have pushed the solar industry into a massive crisis that has already claimed some large industry players such as U.S.-based Solyndra and Germany’s Q-Cells QCEG.DE.

Canadian Solar - which is based in Ontario, Canada, but has most of its operations in China - said in May it would reduce non-essential headcount where possible, following bigger rivals such as First Solar (FSLR.O) and LDK Solar Co Ltd LDK.N in cutting jobs to offset a steep decline in selling prices.

First Solar is cutting 30 percent of its workforce, LDK Solar has slashed more than 5,000 jobs this year, and MEMC Electronics Materials Inc WFR.N laid off more than 1,300 employees in December.

Qu said no major job cut programme was on the cards at Canadian Solar. “But I am cautious about new hires,” he said.

He also said the company had no plans to participate in any M&A activity at the moment.

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