Quest for New
STX Group to invest 200 bln won to build solar battery plant to beat rivals to the punch
STX Group will take on the solar energy business in earnest this year with its affiliate STX Solar signing an MOU on June 30 with Gumi City in North Gyeongsang Province to build a solar cell plant with the capacity to generate 50 Mw of electricity.
STX Solar said the company will invest 200 billion won in the solar cell plant over the next five years at a 58,000 square meter site in the Gumi Industrial Complex.
The company plans to produce 50 Mw of solar cells when the first-stage of the project is completed early next year and expand the plant's capacity to ultimately be capable of producing from 300 to 400 Mw of solar cells, company officials said.
50 Mw of electricity is enough to supply the power needed by 15,000 homes. STX Group plans to enter a wide range of solar power businesses, from solar battery production to the construction of solar power plants, to the extent that it can be a total-solutions provider in the area of solar energy, officials of the group said.
The group will have to face competition with companies already in the solar energy business including LG, Hyundai Heavy, SK, POSCO, and Hanwha, all with huge financial resources with solar energy looked upon as a promising future growth engine.
Hyundai Heavy, the world's largest shipbuilder, has already decided to invest 300 billion won by the end of next year to build a 330 Mw solar cell plant in Eumsong, North Chungcheong Province.
LG Group, too, has set up a road map to launch an integrated solar energy business. Hanwha Petrochemical, too, is ready to break ground for a solar cell plant this year.
Hanwha Petrochemical also plans to launch the construction of a solar energy plant, with the solar energy business being pursued by a number of large companies in the country. Hanwha officials said they have decided to build a solar battery plant first before building a plant to produce a poly silicon plant, a raw material used in solar batteries. They said the company will launch the construction of a solar battery plant inside Hanwha's Ulsan plant complex with a capacity of 30 Mw and start the commercial production of solar batteries in 2010.
SK Chemical, an affiliate of the SK Group will first take over an ingot production company, Solar Mix, before advancing into the solar energy business.
Samsung Group also plans to jump into the solar energy business through its affiliates, Samsung Petrochemical and Samsung Precision Chemical, who will start with the construction of a plant for the production of poly silicon. Samsung Electronics is likely to build a solar battery plant before too long.
STX Group, which now ranks 15th in the business community in terms of sales, expanded over 100 times since the group was first launched eight years ago by Chairman Kang Duk-soo in 2000 through the takeover of Ssanyong Heavy Industry. The company's annual sales amounted to only 260 billion won when it was taken over by STX Group. The group's total annual sales revenue reached 17.5 trillion won last year.
This year, the group expects its sales to top 25 trillion won with the takeover of Aker Yards, a Norwegian shipyard, which was the second largest in the world last year.
The business community wondered if the group would continue to do well when it first entered the shipbuilding industry several years ago.
But to the surprise of the entire country, the group has done well both in shipbuilding and maritime shipping to strengthen its business scale. Yet the real surprise was yet to come. When the group took over a majority stake in the Norwegian shipbuilding company for $800 million, it firmly established its shipbuilding sector as an integral part of the group's business territory. Aker Yards has shipyards in 17 locations in Europe and builds various ships, with the construction of small passenger liners as its specialty. STX Shipbuilding will benefit from the transfer of technologies from the Norwegian shipyard and will become the first Korean shipyard to build passenger ships. nw
Chairman Kang Duk-soo of the STX Group.