Hyundai Heavy Industries has suspended production at its 50MW solar cell and module plant in Eumseong, South Korea.
Manufacturing at the site, which was built in 2007 and is the smallest of three Hyundai solar facilities in Eumseong, was actually halted back in June, although the decision was only made public today. The move is a response to the solar industry’s slowdown over the past 12 months – a by-product of feed-in tariff uncertainty and wider economic difficulties in Europe and the US.
However, Hyundai are eager to outline that the hiatus in production is merely temporary and does not signal the start of a more permanent scaling back of its solar operations. “Amid the declining solar industry worldwide, we suspended the operation of the No.1 plant in June, and workers who had belonged to the facility have moved to the other two plants nearby,” said a Hyundai spokesman. “Once the situation improves, we’ll restart the operation of the plant.
“In the first half of the year, the operational rate of the three plants remained at 70% or more, but the rate has reduced to 50% these days. As the solar energy industry declines, our original plan to expand the solar business has to be modified in a flexible manner for the time being.”
This decline is likely to scupper the original growth plan for Hyundai’s solar and renewable energy divisions; it planned to ramp up combined capacity at its three PV facilities to 1GW – current capacity is 600MW – and to generate sales worth US$1.8 billion from the alternative energy sector by 2012.