Samsung sells everything from chemicals and construction to shipbuilding and sugar. But in recent years the Korean conglomerate has started to turn the wheel towards green technology, and this morning said it plans to spend more than $20 billion largely on developing and selling greentech, including solar cells, battery cells, and LEDs, (in addition to non-greentech items like biopharmaceuticals and medical devices.)
Samsung says the investment will create about 45,000 jobs and deliver 50 trillion won ($44 billion) in annual revenue for affiliate companies by 2020. The largest investment of 8.6 trillion won will go into light-emitting diodes (LED), while 6 trillion won will be pumped into solar cells, and 5.4 trillion won will be spent on rechargeable battery cells for hybrid vehicles.
Samsung is no stranger to clean power and energy storage. Samsung Electronics opened a pilot line for crystalline silicon solar cell production in Giheung, South Korea last fall, with reported conversion rates of between 15 and 20 percent. According to PV-Tech Samsung aims to be a solar cell market leader by the end of 2015.
Samsung also reportedly has been working with California utility Pacific Gas & Electric (s PCG), and the partners have been seeking approval for “a series of 25-year contracts for 130 megawatts’ worth of photovoltaic power plants to be built,” by a Solar Project Solutions — Samsung America’s joint venture with Edison International (s eix) subsidiary ENCO Utility Services. The government of Ontario, Canada also recently announced an agreement for Samsung C&T Corp and partner Korea Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) to set up and operate several wind projects throughout the province, for a total capacity of 2,000 megawatts within 20 years (the deal also included 500 megawatts from solar power).
On the battery front — an area where Samsung has led with its electronics — Samsung SDI plans to start producing lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles next year through a joint venture with Germany-based Robert Bosch. Dubbed SB LiMotive Co., the joint venture was established in 2008 and originally targeted production for 2010, with Samsung SDI working to translate its experience with lithium-ion battery cells for laptops, phones and power tools over to batteries for automotive applications.
Samsung has such a colossal footprint that its effect on clean power and energy efficiency will inevitably be massive (we haven’t even mentioned how it could help make gadgets and electronics more energy efficient). And it’s clear that Samsung believes solar, hybrid and plug-in vehicles, and LEDs will be major growth areas over the next decade.
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