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Home > Worldwide PV Report > Market & Policy

LG, Samsung, Hyundai in Solar Efficiency Battle

Battle for solar module efficiency in Korea is heating up.
Solar module conversion efficiency and cost battle in the Photovolatic (PV) industry is heating up. Since SunPower set efficiency record at 19% with its solar modules, Korean solar cell manufacturers such as Hyundai Heavy Industries,
LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Millinet Solar and Shinsung Holdings have all been racing to introduce solar modules with higher output and higher efficiency. In a situation where 19% is considered the highest power efficiency for solar modules, it is interesting to see who will break the record.

By Jeanny H. Lim



LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Heavy Industries are competing for higher efficiency in solar modules. The three Korean conglomerates have recently introduced their new solar modules with improved conversion efficiency to the market.

Hyundai Heavy Industries, the first Korean conglomerate to start the solar business, has introduced its new 277 W module with 17.1% efficiency. LG Electronics has launched its 260 W solar module with 16.2% efficiency. Samsung Electronics, too, has unveiled its new solar module with efficiency of 15.9%.


Race for Higher Output, Higher Efficiency


At EXPO Solar 2011, Korea’s largest PV exhibition which took place from February 16-18, 2011, LG Electronics debuted its 260 W high-output, high-efficiency monocrystalline solar module for the first time to the international market. On display at the 216 m2 booth at EXPO Solar 2011 were a variety of solar modules for residential, public/power plant and high-output applications. For the residential market, LG Electronics provides solar modules optimized for installtion on the various Korean rooftops. The electronics giant also offers modules suitable for producing high output necessary for public and power plant applications. For the high-output applications, the company provides both mono and polycrystalline solar modules including the 260 W monocrystalline module.

The 260 W monocrystalline solar module that LG Electronics has unveiled for the first time has improved efficiency of over 13% compared to previous products. The module’s efficiency of 16.2% is well suited to produce more output in limited space, thus contributing to lowering installation cost and maximizing capacity over installation area.

LG Elctronics’ mono and polycrystalline modules will be mass-produced from the second half of this year in its new production line equipped with latest technologies.

LG Electronics’ full-fledged operation of its solar business began in 2010 with the start of its 120 MW solar cell and module production line in Gumi, North Gyeongsang province of Korea. Its cells and modules are all made in Korea and sold to local and European customers.

The company plans for investment in the second production line to increase its total production capacity to 330 MW this year and to 1 GW by 2013.

“The solar industry is one of the fastest growing industries due largely to government initiatives, high oil prices and environment-friendly policies,” said Cho Gwan-sik, who leads LG Electronics’ solar operations. “LG Electronics has chosen solar as its new engine for growth and will continue investment in its solar business to become a global top 10 solar company by 2013.”


Industry’s Best Modules Made in Korea


Samsung Electronics began its full-fledged solar operations with the slogan of ‘Samsung, the provider of photovoltaic energy products with industry’s highest efficiency’. The electronics giant has rolled out two new solar modules: 260 W crystal white solar module--producing the world’s highest output using the screen printing method, and 250 W premium black module.

This is the first time a Korean company achieved the highest output of 260 W in a solar module in the world, not in an R&D model but in a production model, using crystalline screen printing.

Samsung Electronics’ 260 W high efficiency solar module targets the rooftop markets in Europe, the world’s leading solar market, and the U.S.A. It produces 30 more watt output than the modules of the company’s competitors in Germany, Japan and China.

The module is also differentiated in that it has 15.9% conversion efficiency while the competitors’ come in the range of 14%. Samsung Electronics says that it is working to produce a prototype of 260 W solar module with 15.9% efficiency within this year.

Samsung Electronics announced that it would ramp up its production capacity to 130 MW from the current 30 MW by the end of this year. In addition, the company moves toward vertical integration by establishing a joint venture with MEMC to produce polysilicon.


Power Efficiency, a Success Factor


In an increasingly heated solar marketplace, one of the keys to success for a solar company is power efficiency of its solar modules. Korea’s leading solar company Hyundai Heavy Industries once again demonstrated its market leadership by introducing a 277 W solar module with power efficiency of 17.1%.

Hyundai Heavy Industries says that most of its modules have 16% efficiency and are scheduled to enter mass production in the first half of 2012 and that its 17.1% modules can be mass-produced in the second half of next year.

The world’s largest shipbuilder who produced 510 MW solar modules and 370 MW solar cells last year plans to expand its cell and module production facilities to 1 GW respectively by early 2012. The company provides 3,000 tons of polysilicon annually through KAM, a joint venture company formed with KCC. 


Jeanny H. Lim is Editor-in-Chief of InterPV. Send your comments to swied@infothe.com.



For more information, please send your e-mails to pved@infothe.com.

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