Conglomerates pull the plug on solar strategy

LG Chem announced on Friday that it will not make any new investments in polysilicon next year citing concerns with the solar energy market amid the ongoing global economic slowdown.  The battery maker wanted to advance into the photovoltaic market and invest heavily in the technology, but now says it wants to change direction. “We would like to put off new investments in polysilicon next year as we did this year until we secure profitability,” LG Chem said in a regulatory filing.

Last December, the company withheld its previous plan to invest 500 billion won ($461 million) in solar energy facilities in Yeosu, South Jeolla.  LG Chem’s latest move comes a day after Hankook Silicon, a local polysilicon maker, filed for court receivership as it failed to repay notes worth 8 billion won. LG is not alone. Korea’s top 10 conglomerates unveiled bold plans to start new businesses two years ago, but not much progress has been made since.

Samsung Group, the country’s No. 1 company by assets, is no exception. The conglomerate had designated solar cells, electric vehicle batteries, light-emitting diodes, biopharmaceuticals and medical equipment as the future growth engines of the company in 2010.

For full article, see Joongang Daily.