LG Electronics Increases Production of Solar PV Panels

Despite the sluggish market conditions for years, the company has spared no cost in R&D, and its perseverence is finally paying off.

According to industry sources on Sept. 22, LG Electronics has increased the production output of its n-type solar cell production plant at Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province, from the middle of this month due to the exceptionally high demand for its new photovoltaic (PV) module product “NeON 2,” which hit the market in Aug., from European firms.

NeON 2 cell

For this, LG Electronics had invested 160 billion won (US$135.31 million) in the production lines for N-type solar modules at the firm's Gumi plant until July. The lines only produce the NeON 2.

A solar cell is made of two types of semiconductors, called P-type and N-type silicon. Based on the 15.67cm (6") N-Type Wafer, NeON 2 is a premium product which has realized higher efficiency and higher capacity than existing P-type products. The company applied an N-type wafer-based high efficiency cell technology and a high capacity solar module technology for the first time in the nation. Since electricity, which is generated from an N-type wafer, lasts relatively longer than if generated from a P-type wafer, it delivers high-efficiency output. However, the manufacturing process of an N-type wafer is more complicated than its P-type. This is why constant investment is required to produce N-type wafer-based products.

LG Electronics applied Cello Technique that minimizes electricity loss by dispersing electricity passages in NeON2. Previous products only had 3 passages where electricity flowed, but NeON2 has 12 passages, which improves its module output.

Initiated by Vice Chairman Koo Bon-joon, the company has chosen technical development and a long-term sustainable business model over immediate profits from the early stage of the PV business. LG Electronics has made continuous investments in the development of premium products, though the global solar cell market conditions have grown much worse due to oversupply from Chinese firms.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the solar power demand around the world is growing more than 10 percent annually on average. New annual installations will reach 100 GW in 2020, and the cumulative installations will surpass 600 GW.

In terms of investment by the new renewable energy sector in 2014, a total of US$143.5 billion (169.69 trillion won) was invested in solar power, accounting for nearly 46 percent of the total investment. The figure stood at US$99 billion (117.07 trillion won) in 2010, US$150.6 billion (178.08 trillion won) in 2011, US$139.7 billion (165.2 trillion won) in 2012, and US$113.9 billion (134.69 trillion won) in 2013. It showed a decrease after 2011, and has started rebounding from last year.