CNPV plans $270 million solar factory in South Korea

According to reports in the Korean business media, a number of international companies, including China’s CNPV, are to band together to invest over a billion dollars in the Saemangeum area of South Korea.

Regarding its Korean plans, a spokesperson for CNPV told pv magazine a meeting was held with Korean authorities on May 23, but that they were not releasing any further details. The reports say the company will invest $270 million in a solar cell and module production plant in the country.

It has further been reported that CNPV has chosen to invest in Korea because of the anti-dumping duties imposed on Chinese goods by America and Europe.

Milan Nitzschke, president of EU Prosun, was sanguine about the reported move by CNPV. He said, "The customs rules are clear in Europe and the U.S. If the cell comes from China, it is a Chinese module wherever it is manufactured. And if the module comes from China, it is a Chinese module wherever it is manufactured. If a company does both steps outside of China, it is not considered to be Chinese and there will be no anti-dumping duties on it."

Nitzschke added, "It is the company’s decision. It seems a bit strange for a Chinese company and manufacturer to move manufacturing and jobs to a country outside China. That is something the customs will have to look at. But there is no reason why there should be a tariff."

Collaborations between China and Korea may begin a new era in the solar industry in East Asia. On June 2 in Seoul, the Chinese Commerce Minister and the Trade Minister for Korea signed a Free Trade Agreement between the two countries that is scheduled to come into force at the end of the year.

South Korea has long been considered a potential sleeping giant in the PV sector. In 2013, pv magazine reported that the country had plenty of potential but was being hamstrung by a lack of will and clear progress in adopting policies beneficial to development. A year later, this magazine reported on the about-face seemingly made with adoptions of new policies. And less than a year ago, the government announced a near $2 billion dollar program to build six energy-related businesses, including one dedicated to jumpstarting the Korean solar market.

The investment program, which was announced by the Korea Agency for Saemangeum Development & Investment (KASDI) and reported in the Korean business media, has reportedly drawn partnerships with Japan’s Toray Advanced Materials, Solvay of Belgium, and Korean firm OCI. KASDI said that those companies were among five that had decided to invest $1.1 billion in Saemangeum.