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Hanwha Solutions discloses fresh investment to strengthen solar cell material business

By Lim Chang-won Posted : September 7, 2022, 18:13 Updated : September 7, 2022, 18:13

[Courtesy of Hanwha Solutions]

SEOUL -- Hanwha Solutions, a chemical and energy company affiliated with South Korea's Hanwha Group, disclosed a fresh injection of 760 billion won ($549 million) to strengthen its solar cell material business and secure a base for producing high-power solar core products. The new investment comes on the heels of fierce competition with Chinese companies.

Through its new investment, Hanwha Group's total production capacity of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) will increase to 920,000 tons, surpassing Exxon Mobil's 790,000 tons and becoming the world's No. 1 EVA producer. EVA, a thermoplastic polymer with good radiation transmission and low degradability to sunlight, is used in solar modules as an encapsulating agent.
 
Hanwha Solutions joined hands with GS Energy, a total energy solution provider in South Korea, to establish an EVA joint venture named " H&G Chemical" by investing a total of 590 billion won with the goal of producing 300,000 tons per year from September 2025. Hanwha Solutions holds a 51 percent stake in the joint venture that will be nurtured into a global top-tier EVA manufacturer in a short period of time.

"In line with the expansion of the global renewable energy market, we will stably supply solar materials based on petrochemical technology and continue to invest in domestic R&D to secure future energy technologies," an unnamed Hanwha Solutions official said in a statement on September 7. 

In its domestic production base in Eumseong, Hanwha Solutions will invest 41.7 billion won to expand the production of EVA sheets that maintain the performance of solar cells.

Separately, Hanwha Q Cells, the photovoltaic cell-making unit of Hanwha Solutions, will invest about 130 billion won to install module production lines using the tunnel oxide passivated contact (TOPCon) structure and large wafers at its Jincheon plant in South Korea. TOPCon is used for the development of high-performance solar cells by the introduction of a tunnel oxide layer between the substrate and poly-silicon. 

Hanwha Solutions would invest about 200 billion won to build a 1.4-gigawatt (GW) solar module plant in the U.S., using TOPCon cells produced in South Korea.  In May 2022. Hanwha Solutions disclosed the planned injection of some 380 billion won into the production of solar cells and modules by building new production lines for high-performance photovoltaic cells and modules in South Korea and the United States. 

To secure a technological advantage over overseas competitors, especially in China, South Korea is actively pushing for the commercialization of new solar cell modules. In March 2022, Hanwha Solutions and Hanwha Corporation became the largest single shareholder of REC Silicon ASA, a Norway-based producer of polysilicon, a high purity polycrystalline form of silicon used as a raw material in the field of solar photovoltaics and electronics.

A consortium led by Hanwha Q Cells is involved in the development of perovskite crystalline silicon cells by using tandem cell technology that builds perovskite on top of silicon solar cells. A perovskite solar cell includes a perovskite-structured compound as the light-harvesting active layer. Perovskite solar cells enable ultrathin films to absorb the complete visible solar spectrum, leading to the creation of low-cost, efficient, thin and flexible modules. Unlike silicon solar cells, which are restricted from installation locations, perovskite solar cells can be installed on the exterior walls of buildings or on the sunroof of vehicles. 

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