September 15, 2009 11:24
Samsung Electronics has moved closer toward its goal of mass production of solar cells, a line of business the company hopes will drive new growth. Samsung Electronics on Monday held a ceremony to mark the opening of a 300 MW R&D and testing facility for solar cells at its manufacturing complex in Giheung, Gyeonggi Province. "We have begun operating our R&D line to prepare for mass production," the company said.
The global market for solar cells is increasing rapidly, having grown more than 33 percent each year since 1995. Market researcher Green Tech Media projects global solar cell manufacturing capacity to grow from 5.1 GW (gigawatts) this year to 10.5 GW in 2012. Germany's Q-Cells was the world leader in solar cell production as of 2007, accounting for 389 MW or a 9.1 percent global share, followed by Japan's Sharp with an 8.5 percent share (363 MW), and China's Suntech with 7.9 percent (336 MW).
In addition to Samsung, three to four other Korean companies including Shinsung Holdings have begun developing their own manufacturing facilities. Since the production of solar cells is similar to that of semiconductors and LCDs, using some of the same technologies, Korea's leading chip and display makers are expected to be able to secure strategic footholds in the burgeoning solar cell market.
In 2005, Samsung Electronics chose solar cell production as one of its new growth engines and has been monitoring market developments until now. The company said it has raised its technological independence in solar cells to 85 percent by utilizing its expertise in LCDs and semiconductors.
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