Korean-made solar cells’ share of the domestic solar module market has fallen to the 20 percent range, with imports from China accounting for a significant portion of the remaining 80 percent.
According to the Korea Energy Agency, the share of Korean cells in the local solar module market was above 50 percent in 2018 and 2019 but is estimated to have fallen to the 20 percent range in the first half of 2020.
This marked the first time that the agency officially announced the market share of Korean-made solar cells. The reason for the sharp drop is that Chinese companies sought to reduce their solar cell inventory through exports. Their inventory increased as a result of the reduction in the Chinese government’s subsidies. A drop in renewable energy certificate (REC) prices also fueled demand for relatively cheap Chinese cells.
Another factor was an increase in exports of Korean solar cells to the U.S. plants of Korean conglomerates such as Hanwha and LG. These companies built new module plants in the United States to cope with U.S. safeguards. This is why Korean-made cells are in short supply while Korea’s cell production capacity is twice its domestic demand at 7.3GW.
In fact, Korean companies prefer exports to the U.S. and European markets where their products are sold at higher prices than in Korea.