Feature Story Hanwha Group Clean Energy & Ocean Solutions Finance

A Better Tomorrow for All – Harnessing the Various Facets of Sustainability in Challenging Times

December 13, 2020
A Better Tomorrow for All – Harnessing the Various Facets of Sustainability in Challenging Times Key visual image

We are all aware that 2020 has been a historically significant year. But for some the impacts of the global pandemic have been nothing short of life-altering. According to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals Report, the events of 2020 are expected to push as many as 71 million people back into extreme poverty and lead to a decrease in world trade of up to 32 percent.

Efforts being made to achieve global sustainable development by meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have also been severely impacted by the pandemic. Fortunately, in the report, the UN indicates a way that the global community can “build back better” in the wake of the pandemic – by maintaining a keen focus on precisely the principles the SDGs were founded upon. But for this to happen, the global community will need leadership that is experienced and committed when it comes to implementing the three pillars of sustainable practices – economic, environmental and social sustainability.

Hanwha has long provided leadership in areas that include economic-environmental synergy, climate action and social contribution. Below, we explore how Hanwha’s diverse business areas look to equip the planet with sustainable technologies while its broad array of programs realize the environmental and social sustainability that will be needed for the world to manifest a truly sustainable future.

Sustainable Business Areas for Economic Sustainability

Hanwha is realizing economic sustainability with its solar power, green hydrogen and bioplastics solutions

For a company to truly have an impact on global sustainable development, its fundamental operations must embody the principles of economic sustainability. To that end, Hanwha’s broad array of business areas are realizing sustainability in a vast range of forms.

As of 2019, global energy production generated 33 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions yearly, while global plastic production could be set to make up 15% of the global carbon budget by 2050. In a world where the sustainable future relies significantly on the development of the technologies that will allow reliance on fossil fuels and conventional plastics to be minimized, Hanwha is at the forefront of the technological innovations that will facilitate these kinds of shifts.

A source of clean, safe and limitless energy, solar stands as one of the primary players in the effort to decarbonize power generation, and Hanwha Q CELLS has been at the forefront of bringing key aspects of the technology to fruition. In addition to being the world’s leading producer of solar modules, Hanwha Q CELLS’ retention of its place as the U.S. residential and commercial solar module market leader for eight consecutive quarters as of the second quarter of 2020 stands as a testament to its ongoing commitment to top-quality energy solutions. Going beyond solar panels, Hanwha’s solar business also provides total energy solutions in areas that include solar power plants and energy retail. Hanwha’s solar power plant business currently delivers leading downstream energy distribution in Europe and North America, providing solutions at every stage of the process – from plant development, to operation and maintenance.

In recent years the world has also woken up to the immense potential being offered by hydrogen as a clean, versatile energy source. In particular, special promise is being shown by the technology of green hydrogen, which is produced using renewable, emissions-free energy sources like solar power. Hanwha’s green hydrogen value chain spans from production through renewable energy systems and water electrolysis, to storage solutions and charging systems. Further delving into the potential offered by hydrogen, in 2020, Hanwha completed construction of its Daesan hydrogen-fuel-cell power plant, the world’s largest industrial power plant of its kind which exclusively utilizes recycled hydrogen to generate clean energy. As hydrogen production technology matures, Hanwha expects green hydrogen solutions to lead the hydrogen growth market and is determined to be at the forefront of the growing hydrogen economy.

But Hanwha is not just taking the lead on clean energy – the company has also embarked on the extensive advanced materials and technology R&D that will contribute to addressing the unsustainability of conventional plastics. As the global consumer base increasingly seeks out products that are eco-friendly and easily recyclable, Hanwha is researching solutions that include bio-based and biodegradable plastics and producing products such as lightweight auto parts to help a range of industries find more sustainable ways forward. As a direct result of its extensive R&D, Hanwha has achieved commercialization of its eco-friendly ECO-DEHCH plasticizer. Cleared for use in food-related products, ECO-DEHCH is safer to handle and recycle than traditional plasticizers, which can have harmful effects on people and the environment.

Clean Energy for Environmental Sustainability

Hanwha is realizing environmental sustainability with its clean energy CSR programs

By establishing state-of-the-art, eco-friendly energy solutions, Hanwha contributes to addressing pressing environmental issues that include climate change and air pollution. A number of the company’s programs additionally look to complement environmental sustainability in Asia, which has been identified as being on the front line of environmental sustainability efforts.

Since its inception in 2011 Hanwha’s Solar Forest program has been working to raise public awareness of the environmental problems that lead to climate change, deforestation, desertification and air pollution. The program went on to be praised as best practice by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in 2011 and by the UN’s High-Level Political Forum in 2018. With the initiative now in its tenth year, the Hanwha Solar Forest campaign has planted 500,000 trees throughout seven different locations across Korea, Mongolia and China.

Hanwha has also turned its attention to helping clean up the key Vietnamese waterway of the Mekong River, the pollution of which impacts the health of more than 70 million people. In 2019 Hanwha’s Clean Up Mekong campaign saw the company donate waste-collecting boats powered by Hanwha Q CELLS solar modules for use in cleaning up the floating garbage that clogs the surface of the river. In addition to waste collection, the project serves to educate and create awareness regarding the dangers of littering and the need for responsible consumption. The solar-powered boats are capable of collecting 400 to 500kg of waste daily, all without releasing any carbon emissions.

But Hanwha’s clean energy efforts reach far beyond Asia, even making an impact in Davos, Switzerland – home of the annual World Economic Forum (WEF). Since 2013, and in contribution to the WEF’s announcement of the “Towards a Greener Davos” initiative, Hanwha has donated solar PV modules to the Davos Congress Centre that are sufficient to offset the facility’s carbon emissions by 20 tons per year, helping to further lower the environmental impact of the annual meeting. This contribution played a role in the WEF receiving ISO 20121:2012 certification for sustainable event management in 2018.

Equipping Communities for Social Sustainability

Hanwha is realizing social sustainability with its solar power CSR program and DREAMPLUS initiatives

In the aforementioned SDGs report for 2020, the UN relates that, while keeping 1.57 billion students out of school, the pandemic has had disproportionately severe impacts on older persons and people with disabilities. As caring for our people grows only more important, Hanwha has continued to come to the aid of those in need while promoting healthy work environments, education and development.

Since 2011, Hanwha’s Happy Sunshine program has been providing communities in need in Korea and China solar power systems, with sustainable energy infrastructure delivered to 320 welfare centers in Korea alone. With a collective production capacity of 2,187 kW per year, those systems donated in Korea achieve carbon emission reductions equivalent to planting more than 370,000 twenty-year-old pine trees.

Hanwha also manifests social sustainability through its DREAMPLUS innovation hub and business enabler. Since 2014, DREAMPLUS has been developing talent by offering a broad range of opportunities to young entrepreneurs and job seekers that include startup acceleration and networking support. The DREAMPLUS 63 Fintech Center and DREAMPLUS Gangnam support the growth of startups in Korea, while for those looking to expand internationally Hanwha operates DREAMPLUS Global Centers in locations including San Francisco and Fukuoka. So far, through DREAMPLUS, roughly 200 startups have been discovered and fostered, with 10 of those startups engaging in business with Hanwha companies in 2019 alone.

In the interest of supporting communities in need closer to home, since 2000 Hanwha has additionally run its Hanwha Braille Calendar program in Korea. Through this program, Hanwha produces and donates 50,000 braille calendars annually to the visually challenged.

The era of sustainability

The sustainable revolution is no longer a matter for future generations – it has arrived. For instance, in a novel display of “sustainability disruption”, between 2014 and 2019 global renewable energy capacity grew by 50%.

Although the circumstances presented by the global pandemic do provide an obstacle to continued progress on sustainability, it is precisely by doubling down on our sustainable priorities that we will ensure that we recover well in the wake of the pandemic. Thus, in one of the most important moments for sustainability in the history of the planet, Hanwha is providing both the economically sustainable clean energy and material solutions and a broad range of socially and environmentally sustainable initiatives to help the world forge a better way forward.