Doosan Group’s fuel cell business is emerging as its core growth engine after it has successfully earned more than 1 trillion won ($878 million) worth new orders so far this year.
Its strong performance is in stark contrast to the poor performance of the country’s industry leader Posco Energy whose fuel cell business has posted more than 200 billion won in operating loss over the past three years.
According to sources from the industry on Monday, Doosan Corp., the group’s holding firm, has won new fuel cell orders worth more than 1 trillion won so far this year, swinging to profits for the first time. The turnaround comes after the company had struggled for years since it first ventured into the fuel cell business in 2014. Last year, the company’s cumulative orders exceeded 1 trillion won for the first time.
The recent surge of Doosan’s fuel cell business also comes after then Doosan Corp. Chairman Park Jeong-won took the helm of Doosan Group last year. “Chairman Park initiated the fuel cell business when he headed Doosan Corp.,” said an official from the group. “The business has got into full swing since Park was named chairman of Doosan Group. Since his reign began, it has completed the construction of the nation’s largest fuel cell plant in Iksan, North Jeolla Province, in May this year.”
Park secured original technology to develop fuel cells for commercial buildings and power generations after taking over U.S. fuel cell producer ClearEdge Power for $32.4 million in July 2014. Two months later in September, Doosan also acquired Korean fuel cell maker Fuel Cell Power that accounted for 80 percent of the local residential fuel cell market for 45.8 billion won to broaden its business to residential fuel cells.
“Park boldly invested in the fuel cell business as he envisioned the business as the group’s core business for the future. Such a decision was made despite the financial shortage that hit the group in 2014, leading it to sell KFC Korea and Doosan Dong-A,” said an official from Doosan.
Doosan Fuel Cell America
The appointment of Park as the group’s chairman in March last year has given a new impetus to the group’s fuel cell business. Park was not shy about pledging to nurture the business as global number one in his inauguration speech. The group also unveiled its plan to invest total $780 million to expand the manufacturing facility of Doosan Fuel Cell America, its U.S. subsidiary, and bolster its research and development capability during Korean president Moon Jae-in’s first state visit to the U.S. with local business delegates in June.
In May, Doosan Corp. completed the construction of the country’s largest fuel cell plant in Iksan that cost the firm a total 40 billion won. The plant can produce 144 units of a 440-kilowatt fuel cell, total 63 megawatts a year, the largest capacity in Korea. Doosan is now capable of producing total 126-megawatt fuel cells a year including an annual capacity of 63 megawatts that can be produced at its Connecticut facility.
By Moon Ji-woong
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