S. Korean firm joins Chinese solar project

July 28, 2011 at 5:40 PM
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SEOUL, July 28 (UPI) -- South Korea's SK Group, country's top oil refiner, has had its SK Innovation Co. sign an agreement with both Chinese and Taiwanese energy firms to cooperate in the development of a solar energy storage system.

SK Innovation's contract with China's Himin Solar Energy Group and Taiwan's Formosa Plastic Corp. will jointly develop a system to store solar energy for the city of Dezhou in northwestern China.

"SK Innovation was credited with its outstanding technology in electric car batteries and its experience in smart grid projects," the company said in a news release. "As the solar energy market is growing rapidly, we will aggressively invest in the sector and gain an early edge," the Yonhap news agency reported.

Beijing has designated Dezhou, with a population of 5.8 million, as a future "solar city," in line with governmental efforts to increase the city's use of solar energy to more than 50 percent by 2021.

SK Innovation said that the solar deal will help it tap into the potentially immense Chinese renewable energy market.

SK Group, originally the Sunkyoung Group before changing its name in 1997, is South Korea's fourth largest industrial conglomerate.

Energy resource-poor South Korea imports more than 83 percent of its energy needs and consequently has mounted an aggressive global campaign to identify and secure the widest possible diverse range of energy resources.

SK Group has projects in markets ranging from Vietnam to Peru and South America's largest economic power Brazil, along with 29 ventures in 16 other countries. With a capacity of 1.15 million barrels per day, it is Asia's fourth largest refiner.

SK Group Holdings ranked 72nd in the 2009 Fortune Global 500 and has more than 30,000 employees worldwide.

While SK Group largely focuses on the chemical, petroleum and energy industries, it has in the past few years expanded its services to include the construction business, shipping, marketing, local telephone, mobile phone and high-speed Internet services, along with the wireless broadband service WiBro.

Along with other Asian energy refiners, SK Group is edgily watching government debt limit negotiations in Washington.

"Producers who are reliant on the U.S. and Europe markets could face a serious impact on demand, but fortunately most of the Asian players are relying on the China market so the impact will be minor," Danny Ho, an analyst at Taiwanese brokerage Yuanta Securities told ICIS.com.

"The end demand for finished goods should be affected, but emerging markets are growing faster than the American market so demand for Asian companies will not be so bad in the longer term."

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