Hanwha Q Cells to build 1.5 GW solar cell plant in South Korea

Leading solar cell manufacturer Hanwha Q Cells revealed at the weekend grand plans to build South Korea’s first large-scale solar cell manufacturing plant.

The South Korean solar company – which last year merged its two brands of Q Cells and Hanwha SolarOne to form Hanwha Q Cells – confirmed that it will construct and complete a new 1.5 GW, 350 billion won ($315.54 million) solar cell facility before the end of the year.

Currently, Hanwha Q Cells has manufactured only solar modules in its home nation, making the cell plant in Jincheon its first in the country. Once completed, Hanwha Q Cells will have a nameplate global solar cell capacity of 5.2 GW – rising from 3.7 GW cell capacity currently.

Hanwha Q Cells also confirmed that it will double the production capacity at its 250 MW module plant in Eumseong, North Chungcheong Province, where the announcements were made on Sunday. This expansion plan is slated for completion in September.

The Group confirmed that the expansion plans have been given the green light as the company seeks to widen its downstream activities across many solar markets, as well as stepping up its supply to the U.S. following a recent large-scale order from NextEra Energy in April, which will see Hanwha Q Cells supply 1.5 GW of solar modules to the U.S. power company over the next 15 months.

"By having new facilities we have ensured a stable supply to NextEra Energy," said a company official. "And it also means we are prepared for the solar energy era. We are expecting to win additional large-scale orders and expand downstream projects, which are to establish and manage solar plants, in the future."

Clearly solar trade disputes have factored into the decision to locate Hanwha Q Cell’s new production facility in Korea. Hanwha Q Cells operates the former SolarFun production facilities in China, which are affected by tariffs when exported to the U.S. It’s Q Cells facility, in Malaysia, too may attract tariffs in the future, if the solar trade dispute extends to the producers in the Southeast Asian country in the future.

Last week’s announcement by the European Commission that it was opening an investigation into whether modules produced by Chinese manufacturers either in Taiwan or Malaysia had circumvented duties in breach of EU rules certainly sets an ominous tone. A Hanwha Q Cells spokesman told pv magazine that the company is in open communications with the EC on the matter.

The construction of the solar cell facility in Jincheon, Chungcheongbuk-do, will bring around 950 jobs to the local economy, Hanwha Q Cells added.