The Korean government has recently made efforts to establish global standards for energy storage systems (ESS) and in-vehicle displays based on domestic technologies, but these efforts bore no fruit in the face of resistance from Japan.
The Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS) intended to make a proposal for “Safety Standards and Testing Methods for the Lithium-ion Battery ESS” at the international standardization conference of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) held in Italy last month, but it failed to present it.
IEC’s research project on ESS standardization is currently led by a Japanese expert from Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), who suggested that the topic be discussed at the next conference on the ground that it was necessary to check first whether similar standards were being developed in Japan. A project leader carries considerable authority as he leads international joint research on technology standardization. Participating countries conventionally comply with the leader.
A Korean government official said that a series of ESS-related fires occurred in Korea last year and this year, which led to many case studies on ESS safety standards. “We believed that Korean technologies have reached the level of international standards. So we tried to make a proposal,” he said, adding, “We will submit the proposal within the first half of next year.”
A similar situation was also witnessed at the general assembly of the IEC held in China in October, a month earlier. Back then, the KATS sought to propose the domestic technology for assessing automotive displays as an international standard, but only to be faced with Japan’s objection. “The Korean technological standards have something in common with flat-panel display standards which were already submitted to the IEC,” said Japan.
Analysts say that Japan is keeping in check Korea’s ESS and automotive display technologies. Korea’s Li-ion battery producers such as Samsung SDI and LG Chem are expanding their investments in ESS, which is considered as “a future cash cow for Korea after semiconductors.” The same is true of Japanese companies such as Sharp, Panasonic and Kyocera. As they are also turning more attention to ESS, competition between the two countries in the global market is inevitable. Automotive displays are also rising as a new growth engine for the display industry, where Japan and China are chasing after front-running Korea.