Korea: STX Solar sets ambitious manufacturing goals; to install 86 MW

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With the aim of reaping sales of US$120 billion by 2020, and an established background in trading services, the STX Group is in a comfortable financial position. Consequently, its solar arm, STX Solar Co. Ltd, is well supported when it comes to realizing its ambitious energy plans.

Currently, the company manufactures 200 megawatts (MW) worth of photovoltaic cells, with an efficiency of 18.6 percent, and 50 MW of modules. However, this year it expects to increase its two cell production lines to four, and hopes to be manufacturing 400 MW worth of cells and 200 MW of modules by 2013.

Factory plans

STX Solar is also building a factory in Gumi, South Korea, where it plans to increase the number of cell lines to 10 by 2015. Consequently, it is expected that around 700 MW of cells will be produced and 350 MW of modules. Peter Yong-il Bae, senior manager of sales and marketing, tells pv magazine that 90 billion won (around $80.0 million; €61.1 million) has been invested in the new factory, and the equipment is being sourced from various places, including Korea and Germany.

As aforementioned, the company is in new territory when it comes to selling photovoltaic modules. At present, its main markets are in Europe, specifically Germany, Italy and Spain. China and Taiwan are also interesting, he said, since the companies there like the quality. STX is further "slowly moving" towards the U.S. and other Asian markets.

Big ambitions

In addition to the manufacturing side, STX Solar is positioning itself as an EPC contractor. This year, Yong-il Bae says the company is looking to install over 10 MW worth of ground-mounted photovoltaic projects in Korea. He wouldn’t divulge any concrete details, however.

While this may seem small like small fry in comparison to the scale of projects being implemented around the world, the company intends to ramp development activity up in 2013, with the execution of two large-scale projects. The first, the Solar City Waterfront Project, will see about 30 MW installed, while the second, the Solar Park Project, will see a total of 56 MW installed over four phases.

To execute its plans, STX works together with Korea’s energy companies. It partially invests in the projects, while the banks provide the rest of the financing. "It is easy to get bank financing," says, Yong-il Bae, "due to the size of the company". The equipment, meanwhile, comes both from the domestic market and internationally, from countries like Germany, depending on the price.

SPX spoke to pv magazine at this year’s International Green Energy Expo in Daegu, South Korea (pictured). Watch out for the May issue, which will provide an overview of the Korean photovoltaic market.