25 November 2002 – A study on behalf of Germany’s solar energy industry says that the sector has received private sector investment totalling $1bn in 1998-2004, raising sales in the industry five times from 2001 levels.

International energy majors such as Shell, RWE and Vattenfall have solar energy-related production ventures in Germany, taking advantage of state subsidies aimed at boosting alternative sources of energy.

“These extensive investments are mainly due to the German (government) subsidies, which have created a significant sales market in Germany,” said the report commissioned by country’s leading solar industry association UVS.

The study showed that sales in the photovoltaics industry, which includes the production of solar cells and wavers, should rise to $1.6bn by 2004 from about $320m in 2001.

Despite booming investment and sales in the equipment industry, solar energy itself still contributes very little to total power generation in Germany.

“Last year solar power had a 0.03 per cent share in overall electricity production in Germany and it is expected to remain below one percent in 2002,” an UVS spokesman told Reuters.

Installed solar power in Germany in 2001 stood at 200 MW, again trailing behind Japan which had over 400 MW put into place. The US came third with about 175 MW of installed capacity.