Top Ten Cleantech Initiatives of Samsung

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Samsung Group is a multinational conglomerate corporation located in South Korea. By sales, Samsung Electronics is the largest technology company around the globe. The work of Samsung Group equals to approximately a fifth of the total exports in South Korea. In the last 70 years, Samsung has worked diligently to make this world better through the provision of diverse businesses including advanced technology, plant and skyscraper construction, semiconductors, finance, petrochemicals, and so much more. As the website states, “Through innovative, reliable products and services; talented people; a responsible approach to business and global citizenship; and collaboration with our partners and customers, Samsung is taking the world in imaginative new directions.” One of those directions is clean technology initiatives.

1) $4.2 Billion Dollar Green Initiative. In 2009, Samsung Electronics announced a $4.2 billion initiative to develop a number of products that are environmentally friendly, as well as reduce emissions from all manufacturing plants by the year 2013. Known as the PlanetFirst Project, Samsung Electronics is looking to focus on low-carbon growth through decreased greenhouse gas emissions in plants by 50 percent and reducing indirect greenhouse gas emissions from products by 84 million tons. The reduction in emissions will come via the energy efficiency improvement of all products, including televisions, air conditioners, and refrigerators. The company is “committing to becoming a truly green enterprise that places eco-management at the very heart of our business decision-making and growth,” said vice chairman and CEO Yoon-Woo Lee at a ceremony launching the initiative.

2) Environmental Initiatives. Samsung has created a number of environmental initiatives. Their eco-design evaluation system created in 2004 helps to evaluate and then improve the overall environmental quality of all products in three categories – environmental hazardousness, energy efficiency, and resource efficiency. When it comes to hazardous substances in raw materials and parts, they are managed in an environmentally quality management system. Lastly, through Samsung’s Recycling Direct initiative, it makes it simple for consumers to dispose of old electronics in a responsible, convenient way.

3) Mobile Take it Back Program. Samsung has realized that environmental protection starts with recycling, this is why they created the Mobile Take it Back Program. This is part of Samsung Electronics America and Samsung Recycling Direct total commitment to responsible and convenient recycling. Through the Mobile Take it Back Program, consumers are able to recycle their Samsung branded electronics for absolutely no fee, as well as non-Samsung electronics for a small fee that is given directly to the recycling partners of Samsung. This program accepts all electronics sold in the United States, including televisions, audio equipment, home theater systems, cameras, cell phones, computers, and camcorders. The recycled products are then reused for manufacturing resources.

4) Samsung and Solar Deal in Ontario, Canada. Samsung and Korea Electric Power Corp. in 2010 invested over $6 billion into solar and wind projects throughout Ontario, Canada. In this deal, KEP and Samsung are going to manufacture and build a number of power plants and build four new factories to manufacture the equipment necessary for the power plants. The plants are going to employ 1,440 people. The 2.5 gigawatts of renewable capacity offered tripled the current renewable capacity. This deal not only puts Samsung in the environmentally friendly manufacturing list but it also accelerates the province’s Green Plan.

5) Samsung Improves Energy Efficiency. Samsung has currently been looking at a number of their electronic devices and making necessary energy efficiency improvements. These improvements will not only provide more energy needs to Samsung notebooks, but it will also increase overall battery life. For example, the 30-nanometer Green DRAM two gigabyte DDR3 modules currently utilize 30 percent less power than the 50-nanometer ones. Though this is not a lot, it is something, and it is noticeable.

6) Samsung Announced $21 Billion Clean Technology Investment in 2010. In May 2010, Samsung announced a new plan to put in $21 billion worth of investment into clean technologies throughout the next decade. The investments will be primarily focused on rechargeable batteries to be used in hybrid vehicles, solar cells, and new LED technologies. The hope is that by the year 2020, Samsung will be rebranded into one of the biggest clean technology companies around the world. Lee Kun-hee, Chairman and CEO of Samsung Electronics, said, “Governments around the world are investing in green industries to address the issues of depleting energy resources… We must move ahead decisively to take this opportunity while other global companies hesitate.” A number of current products will be phased out in the next ten years to make way for new, more clean technology-based products that are energy efficient and will also increase revenues for the company.

7) Samsung Provides Energy Storage for Grids and Vehicles. Samsung SDI in 2010 started producing lithium ion batteries for use by electric vehicles starting in 2011. This was done through a joint venture agreement with German based company Robert Bosch. The new joint venture is called SB LiMotive Co. Samsung SDI is hoping to translate its experience working on creating lithium ion battery cells for power tools, cell phones and laptops will translate for creating lithium ion battery cells for automotive applications.

8 ) Samsung Produces Solar Cells and Gear. In Giheung, South Korea, Samsung Electronics opened a new pilot line for the production of crystalline silicon solar cells in 2009. Besides the cells, Samsung has made a number of investments into solar technology. In early 2010 Samsung America in partnership with Aspen Aerogels announced a new agreement for Samsung to market and sell thermal insulation products from Aspen Aerogels to the heavy solar thermal industry throughout the United States and Europe. Samsung is using their name recognition and their entry into hydrocarbon energy and processing industries to make this happen.

9) Samsung Adopts Bio-Based Materials. Due to the increased number of phone manufacturers and carriers creating new “green” brands of cells phones, Samsung jumped into the mix in August 2009 with their new Reclaim phone. At first only available to Sprint customers, the Reclaim phone is manufactured with 80 percent recycled material. 40 percent of this new phone’s outer casing was created with corn-based bioplastics, and therefore lacking a majority of known toxic chemicals often found in cell phones.

10) Samsung Builds and Operates Solar Power Plants. One of Samsung’s moves into the area of clean technology can be seen through a deal made with Pacific Gas and Electric, a California-based utility company. PG&E, as it is commonly referred to as, requested to get approval for a number of 25 year contracts for approximately 130 megawatts of photovoltaic power plants to be constructed by Solar Projects Solution – a joint venture Samsung America holds with ENCO Utility Services. This project has come after the established Samsung solar project with the Ontario, Canada government.

Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at shawn@watershedcapital.com

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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