BP to create one of the world’s largest solar cell factories

In order to keep up with the rapidly-growing demand for solar power in Europe, BP has announced that the company has agreed in principle to acquire Agee Systems' semiconductor plant in Madrid as a base for a five-fold expansion of its solar photovoltaic manufacturing in Spain.

BP is set to invest over US$100 million (£71 million) in the new facility, creating around 600 new jobs. According to the company, the deal is expected to be complete within the next few months, allowing the plant to begin production by the end of 2002.

The inability of solar power companies to produce sufficient solar cells to supply demand has been responsible in some regions for a lack of growth in the solar market (see related story), however, says BP, the semiconductor plant offers them a platform for rapid growth to meet the demand. The new facility will produce 60MW of solar cells per year, more than doubling the company’s current output.

“Spain and the rest of Europe represent growing markets for solar power,” said BP Solar Chief Executive Harry Shimp. “This project in Madrid will enable us to continue to play a leading role in meeting that demand.”

BP already supplies 20% of the global solar power market, producing over 40MW of solar voltaic equipment in 2000, has opened a new cell and module production plant in Sydney, Australia, and has also recently announced a new assembly facility in Germany.

“Solar power is increasingly helping to meet the energy needs of the Spanish people, while protecting our environment,” said BP Spain President Luis Javier Navarro. “BP is pleased to be part of this positive contribution to the lives of our fellow citizens.”

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