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South Korea bets on renewable energy

Posted: 19 Jan 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:South Korea energy market? renewable energy? fuel cell? solar cell?

The global energy paradigm is shifting with the industrialization of new renewable energy Korea is following suit as new renewable energy is a becoming a growth driver that can meet the government's 'Low Carbon, Green Growth' vision to achieve new employment and economic growth, and enable security of green energy supply and energy export resources.

Solar boom
2015 is estimated to be the year Korea's solar cell business achieves economic feasibility and show rapid growth. According to Ki-Jun Hong, the president of Hanwha Chemical Corp., which recently entered the solar industry, the solar market is going to see the increase in demand from 2012 and the demand will exceed the supply by 2015.

In 2009, Samsung Electronics introduced its solar-powered mobile phone and crystalline solar panel. LG Electronics also introduced solar-powered cellphone, which enables three minutes of talk time with 11 minutes of charging. LG is actively developing thin-film solar cell.

Samsung entered the solar-cell business by starting up R&D photovoltaic line for crystalline solar cell at Kihung in September 2009. Even though the line started relatively late, the localization rate of the 30MW PV line's equipments approaches 85 percent. Through it, Samsung secured technologies for solar cell production facilities and processes. Samsung said that it would provide the company with opportunity to secure cost competitiveness even after it installs mass-production line later.

LG Electronics has been doing R&D on solar cells for the last five years. It plans to establish two solar cell production lines during the period from November 2009 to December 2010 with investment money of around 220 billion won ($19.56 million).

Millinet Solar, a local solar-cell company, had MOU with California state government for the establishment of 50MW solar module factory in 2009. The company hopes to get the large market share by thus developing the USA market, said Kim, Sang-Woo, Public Relation Team director of the company.

DSSC (dye-sensitized solar cell), which enables you to use glass windows or outer walls of buildings as a solar cell, is also expected to achieve some sales in 2010, replacing certain portion of the existing solar-cell business. In early 2010, the products are expected to be used mainly in the chassis or windows of the new houses built by the construction companies.

Driving fuel cell growth
Global fuel cell market is projected to become 1.9 billion dollars by 2013. Though high costs and weak durability during long-term use are still the roadblocks against its commercialization, fuel cell is emerging as one of the major next-generation energy having the potential to provide clean energy with 40~60 percent higher efficiency than conventional electricity generation system. Global automotive companies are also turning their attention to the fuel cell as an alternative energy source to reduce air pollution and dependency on fossil fuel.

The applications for fuel cell include automotive, residential and small and medium electricity generation, mobile electronics, hydrogen energy, etc.

In automotive sector, Hyundai Motor Company developed early form of automotive fuel cell. Starting late 2010, charging facilities for hydrogen fuel cell car will be installed in general gas stations or LPG stations to invigorate eco-friendly automotive industry. As for residential power generation (RPG), the 'one-million green home project' will be launched this year, with government subsidy for fuel-cell manufacturers, according to Young-Sik Kwak, assistant manager of Toyota Tsusho Korea Corp. The project plans to replace the energy supply for general homes with new renewable energy such as solar light and heat, subterranean heat, hydrogen fuel cell, etc, aiming at supplying one million such homes by 2020. As of 2008, the project supplied as many as 24,675 homes.

In addition, GS Engineering & Construction introduces 'Green Xi' apartment complex. Its fuel cell uses city gas (natural gas) to produce electricity and hot water it needs. The fuel cell system is supposed to make the apartment complex self-sufficient in terms of electricity.

Samsung Electronics introduced fuel cells for home usage and methanol type mobile fuel cells in October 2009.

- EE Times-Korea

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