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Korean solar power majors ready new investments in U.S., Korea

Lee Yoon-jae and Jenny Lee 기자
입력 2022/05/17 11:36
수정 2022/05/17 13:09
    
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[Source: Hanwha Solutions] South Korea’s leading photovoltaic companies are expected to reveal new investment plans both at home and in the United States during U.S. president’s visit to Seoul when the two governments will highlight energy alliance and reduce reliance on Russia and China through renewable exploration and production.

According to sources in the local photovoltaic industry on Monday, the country’s solar energy majors, Hanwha Solutions and OCI, will likely attend a business roundtable meeting held on May 21 on the sidelines of summit talks between Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden. At the meeting, Hanwha Solutions and OCI are expected to propose new investments in the U.S. and Korea, sources added. President Biden is due in Seoul on Friday for weekend stay.

The Biden administration has been going all-out to ramp up green energy production and enhance business with Korean private companies for energy security since Russia’s war against Ukraine on top of trade row between the U.S. and China.

The U.S. administration has already forged close partnership with Korean private companies in the semiconductor and secondary battery businesses. The global photovoltaic industry is currently dominated by Chinese players, with Hanwha Solutions being the only non-Chinese player among global top 10 players ranked seventh.

“The U.S. and European counties are actively enhancing their photovoltaic industry value chain to improve energy security,” said an unmade source in the business circle, adding that the Korean government is also joining the move.

Hanwha that recently decided to invest 200 billion won ($156.49 million) to build a photovoltaic module factory with a production output of 1.4 GW in the U.S. is highly expected to unveil a plan to ramp up output at its facilities in Georgia.

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The company has recently accelerated its investment in the U.S. solar energy sector. It acquired U.S. energy management software firm Jelly in 2020, a technology startup for renewable energy Lancium Technologies in 2021, and polysilicon provider REC Silicon in 2022. With the acquisition of REC Silicon, the Korean company returned to polysilicon business that it exited in 2020.

At home, Hanwha Solutions has announced an investment plan of 180 billion won to expand production lines in North Chungcheong Province. It has been also floated as a strong candidate to take over Woongjin Energy, a local ingot and wafer manufacturer, and if it does, Hanwha Solutions would be the only company at home with a complete photovoltaic business value chain.

OCI has been also aggressive in advancing into the US photovoltaic industry over the last decade and currently leads solar energy projects in Texas, New Jersey, and Georgia. Its U.S. operation OCI Solar Power oversees its projects in the U.S., while its affiliate Mission Solar Energy produces solar modules.

The photovoltaic industry in Korea expects Korean corporations’ inroads into the U.S. market will pick up speed once the U.S. Senate passes the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act.

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