SEOUL, Sept. 7 (Yonhap) -- Hanwha Solutions Corp., a key energy unit of South Korea's Hanwha Group, said Wednesday it is investing 761.7 billion won (US$549.6 million) to boost production capacity of its domestic solar panel materials as it pushes for an expansion into the renewable energy sector.
The announcement came after Hanwha recently tapped Kim Dong-kwan, the heir apparent to the defense-to-chemicals conglomerate, as a vice chair to head key affiliates of the conglomerate, including Hanwha Solutions, in a move seen as intended to speed up the leadership transfer.
Hanwha Solutions will establish a joint venture with GS Energy Corp., an energy arm of GS group, to build a plant to produce solar EVA sheets in an industrial complex in Yeosu, about 300 kilometers southwest of Seoul.
Hanwha and GS are investing a combined 590 billion won for the joint venture, named H&G Chemical, in which Hanwha will own a 51 percent stake. The new plant aims to produce an annual 300,000 tons of EVA starting September 2025.
Solar EVA sheets are a key component for solar panels, as they enhance durability and performance. They make solar cells to float between the glass and the backsheet so as to provide protection against shocks or vibrations.
The joint venture will boost Hanwha's EVA production capacity to 920,000 tons a year, making it the world's biggest EVA sheet producer, Hanwha said.
Hanwha Solutions' advanced materials unit is also investing 41.7 billion won to expand its EVA sheet production in its production line in Eumseong County, North Chungcheong Province, about 130 km south of Seoul.
Hanwha Q Cells, the solar solutions unit of Hanwha Solutions, will pour 130 billion won to install a production facility for solar modules using the tunnel oxide passivated contact (TOPCon) and large wafers.
TOPCon solar cells are considered next-generation technology, designed to add an ultra-thin oxide layer on top of a film attached to the back of solar cells, helping them absorb more light.