LG Electronics is swapping plasma TVs for silicon PVs. Photovoltaics, that is. The South Korean electronics maker said today that it will convert a decommissioned plasma panel display manufacturing plant to make silicon solar panels. LG says retooling the plant will cost 220 billion won ($168 million).
The project is scheduled to start next month with two solar fab lines, one of which should start production in 2010 with the other following in 2011. Each line will have a production capacity of 120 megawatts and will mint crystalline silicon solar cells and modules. LG shuttered the plasma panel display facility in 2007 amid falling television prices driven down by efficient LCD displays, but now the plant could have a sunnier second life.
LG has been steadily growing its solar capacity since it acquired the business from its sister company, LG Chem, in June this year. Just last month, LG moved to take a 75 percent stake in Conergy’s solar module plant in Frankfurt for a reported $180 million.
However, LG will face stiff competition from other technology conglomerates who have a head start in ramping up their solar production in the region. Fellow South Korean firms Samsung and Hyundai have both been growing their cleantech businesses, especially in the solar arena. Meanwhile, Japanese firm Sharp is gearing up its massive 1 gigawatt thin-film solar fab plant and recently announced it will sell its products into the U.S. market.