BP Expects Solar Manufacturing $ to Double by 2008


BP Solar's director for Asia, Mark Twidell, was interviewed at their plant in Sydney, Australia. He remarked that energy security was huge driver for solar energy demand, with purchasers wanting something in their energy portfolio that was not linked to the price of oil or carbon. To service this interest "Beyond Petrolum's" Australian plant last year completed an $8 million expansion to lift capacity by 25 percent to 50 megawatts a year, from 5 megawatts in 2000. Across the company they are expecting to invest $1.8 billion, over the next three years, in clean and renewable energy. BP is said to the world's third largest photovoltaic supplier, having about 10% of the global solar market, which is estimated to have been around 1.5 gigawatts in 2005. Suggesting that the costs of solar will decline with the rising demand, he predicted that Asia's rural areas will find solar power increasingly affordable: "Much the way that mobile phones have taken over, you can just deploy the solar panels directly on the school, the hospital, the home, and straight away electricity is generated.'' The Blomberg article infers that Asia is placed to surpass even the growth being currently experienced in Germany, which has seen a 53% expansion. But such runaway growth has not been without its hurdles. "The industry is going through a growing pain at the moment, in that it's found itself a little bit stranded on supply,'' Twidell said. In the past 18 months, silicon prices have surged to $100-$200 a kilogram from about $20-$25 a kilogram, he said. ::BP Solar Australia, via Bloomberg.