LG to switch PDP production space to solar cells

LG Electronics plans to construct two solar cell production lines in space occupied by a PDP manufacturing line at a plant in South Korea, it said Monday.

LG Electronics plans to construct two new production lines for solar cells in space currently occupied by a PDP (plasma display panel) manufacturing line at its Gumi plant in South Korea, it said Monday.

The company will invest 220 billion won (US$167 million) to replace its A1 PDP line with the two solar production lines. The A1 line is currently dormant and based on old technology, and therefore is ripe for reinvestment or replacement.

Both new lines will be able to produce 120 megawatts worth of solar modules per year. The first is expected to begin operation in the first quarter of 2010 and the second a year later in the first quarter of 2011.

The move says as much about the PDP display market as it does about the solar energy market. Sales of PDPs have been declining as displays based on rival LCD (liquid crystal display) technology grow larger, more power-efficient and more advanced, erasing the technology advantage that PDP once had. Meanwhile sales of solar panels are rising fast as consumers and companies both look towards greener energy sources and attempt to offset rising oil prices.

LG Electronics is working on building its solar cell and module business and in June this year acquired the solar cell business of sister-company LG Chem.

The company will manufacture crystalline silicon solar cells, which are the most common type of solar cell and use silicon as the light-absorbing material.

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