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Hanwha has big solar plan

Costs will be even with fossil fuels by 2017: CEO

Oct 26,2009
Hong Ki-joon CEO, Hanwha Chemical
Hanwha Chemical is refocusing on renewable energy, hoping that will give it the push it needs to become a world leader in the new green economy.

Hong Ki-joon, the company’s president, said in a press conference at the company’s plant in Ulsan Friday that starting in January, solar batteries capable of producing a total of 30 megawatts of power a year will be manufactured there annually.

According to Hanwha, 30 megawatts is about the amount used by 10,000 households annually.

But Hanwha’s target is global, not domestic, Hong said.

In the long run, the company plans to become one of the top 10 global manufacturers of solar batteries, the president explained, with a worldwide market share of 5 percent by 2015 and revenue over 1 trillion won ($841 million). To achieve this, Hanwha Chemical will increase annual production to 330 megawatts in 2012 and 1 gigawatt in 2015, Hong said.

Since July, Hanwha Chemical has been testing its solar battery plant, which was built on a 1,500-square-meter (16,146-square-foot) site within its Ulsan complex. The technology and equipment was brought in by the U.S. company Spire.

“With the economic recovery, every country is expanding their investment in renewable energy,” Hong said. “The demand for solar power will grow after 2012, and by 2015 demand will outrun supply.”

But more importantly, Hong stressed that Hanwha Chemical will work on making all the solar energy technology it uses domestically developed, including its polysilicon, a vital part of solar energy generation. The CEO, however, said the company has not decided whether to buy part or all of a foreign polysilicon developer.

Hong forecast that solar energy will likely accelerate “grid parity,” the term for the point at which the supply price of fossil fuels and renewable energy equalizes, to around 2017, or 2018 for household use.

He added that Asia, including China and Taiwan, will become the center of the solar energy industry, as semiconductor and LCD technologies play a significant role in making solar energy cells.

Hong also said that by 2015 Hanwha will have diversified its businesses. Solar cells, he said, are just the beginning. Other potential targets include carbon nanotubes and pharmaceuticals.

In the drug business, the company is currently building a plant at the bioscience complex in Changwon, North Chungcheong.

New businesses will make up 20 percent of all Hanwha sales, according to Hong.


By Lee Ho-jeong [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]



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