President Moon Jae-in promised to speed up the country's use and development of clean, renewable energy Thursday, partly to support local manufacturers of solar panels recently hit by U.S. safeguard measures.
The fresh pledge came during his visit to a production facility of a local solar panel maker, Hanwha Q Cells, in Jincheon, 90 kilometers south of Seoul.
"As you know, the United States took safeguard measures on solar Q-cells and modules last week. We may expect great difficulties for our solar panel industry, including Hanwha Q Cells. The government will not sit idly but will work with local companies to help minimize their damage," the president said, according to pool reports.
"On the other hand, we will seek to provide even the smallest support by speeding up our 3020 policy to expand our own local market at an early date," he added, referring to a government policy to increase the country's ratio of renewable energy supplies to 20 percent of all power supplies by 2030.
A Hanwha official said the company enjoyed the largest market share in the U.S. last year, but that its U.S. sales were expected to shrink 50 percent compared to what it forecast earlier this year.
President Moon said the company deserved a praise and recognition for its leadership in the clean, renewable energy sector.
"Our government has named the renewable energy sector as a leading industry for innovation-led growth and I believe Hanwha Q Cells will be a company that spearheads innovation-led growth in the renewable energy sector," he said. "I once again offer my appreciation and respect."
Moon's visit to the company was also aimed at praising the firm and its labor union for what he called their job sharing efforts.
The company recently added 500 new workers to its 1,500-strong workforce while reducing the average working hours of its employees to 42 hours a week from 56 hours.
"Should all companies join such efforts, I believe we will soon achieve all our objectives, including reduced working hours and creating more quality jobs through job sharing. I believe it is a way to resolve the issue of the high youth unemployment rate," he said.