German research minister Jürgen Rüttgers yesterday welcomed plans by three firms to boost national production of photovoltaic cells from just a few megawatts to nearly 40MW, on a par with production in the USA, the world leader. With DM12m (Ecu6.1m) federal support over the next three years, and extra assistance from the states of North-Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria, Shell Germany and Pilkington Solar International are to build a new 25MW capacity manufacturing facility at Gelsenkirchen, while Angewandte Solarenergie is to expand the capacity of its plant in Alzenau from 1MW to 13MW by 1999. The projects fit perfectly with Germany's strategy for solar power, Mr Rüttgers said yesterday, noting that total federal investment in solar energy is running at DM80m annually, over 25% of all spending on renewable energies. The government has welcomed the investments, which follow two years of discussions with the firms involved, as an "excellent chance for innovation and future jobs". Shell International, which last month launched a new company with the aim of capturing 10% of the global solar panel market before 2005, said yesterday that the new investment by Shell Germany was "in line" with its objectives.
German research ministry, tel: +49 228 570; Shell International, tel: +44 171 934 1234.
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