The Korea International Trade Association announced on Feb. 16 that South Korea’s photovoltaic module imports from China totaled US$367.52 million last year, up 67.4 percent from a year ago, while South Korea’s photovoltaic module exports to China fell from US$1,423,000 to US$437,000.
Experts point out that not South Korean but Chinese companies benefited from the South Korean government’s renewable energy promotion policy and South Korea’s photovoltaic power generation industry is collapsing as seen in the case of OCI, which recently decided to stop producing polysilicon in South Korea. Meanwhile, Chinese photovoltaic module manufacturers are opening their South Korean branches one after another as the South Korean photovoltaic power generation market is growing.
The photovoltaic power generation ecosystem of South Korea for polysilicon-based production of ingots, wafers, cells and modules has already collapsed. Hankook Silicon, which was the second-largest polysilicon manufacturer in South Korea behind OCI, filed for receivership in 2018 and Nexolon and SMP went bankrupt in 2017. Woongjin Energy, South Korea’s only ingot and wafer manufacturer, filed for receivership last year although it used to be the world’s fourth-largest in terms of production capacity. The company is likely to be acquired by a Chinese company.
South Korea’s dependence on Chinese solar power components is increasing as well. For instance, Hanwha Solution recently had to temporarily shut down two of its solar module manufacturing plants due to the shortage of components imported from China.