Saudi International Petrochemical Co. and South Korea's Hanwha Chemical Corp. have opened a $40 million EVA thin-film solar panel manufacturing plant in Saudi Arabia.
The facility, in the special economic zone of Hail, will have an annual capacity of 4,000 metric tons of ethylene-vinyl acetate film when it's fully commercialized. The operation is part the Saudi company's efforts to bring more plastics processing and downstream operations to the Kingdom to complement its resin manufacturing.
In a statement, Saudi International Petrochemical, also known as Sipchem, said the film plant began trial operations Dec. 29, with additional details of commercial production to be announced later.
Local media reported in 2013 that the two companies are also building a joint venture plastic mold making facility in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with a capacity to manufacture molds up to 1,000 tons.
Both the EVA film plant and mold making operations are part of the Saudi Specialized Products Co., which is a joint venture that is 75 percent owned by Sipchem and 25 percent by Hanwha.
Saudi media reported in 2013 that the EVA film plant and the mold making project would be a total investment of about $60 million and create 180 jobs.
The Korean partner, Hanwha, also has large manufacturing capacities for solar cells. In December, the Seoul-based firm announced a merger that said would make it the world's largest maker of solar cells, with a manufacturing capacity of 3.28 gigawatts.
Hanwha and Sipchem also have larger joint investments in resin manufacturing in Saudi Arabia. In August they announced the start-up of a plant making 200,000 metric tons a year of EVA and low-density polyethylene materials, an investment of $800 million.
Hanwha is making sizable investments -- in November it bought plastics and chemicals assets from Samsung, making it the largest petrochemical firm in Korea.