BP Solar on track for first profits
BP Solar, the third largest solar company in the world, is about to achieve a major milestone in the history if solar power--it is about to turn a profit. After restructuring in 2003, BP has taken advantage of decreasing production costs and a sharp increase in global demand, largely driven by Germany. BP plans to more than double its production capacity over the next 18 months.
A report by analysts CLSA Asia-Pacific confirmed that solar experienced industry-wide profits for the first time in 2004 and that market growth was some 40 percent.
The sudden growth of demand in Europe has also drawn in Sharp, the world's largest solar company, which opened a 200 megawatt capacity facility in Wales in mid 2004. But with demand soaring for solar in Europe, and supplies low, there is room for all players to operate profitably in the market.
Solar power is proving that it is viable, but the growth continues to be driven by government support, support that centers in Europe, Japan, and a few states in the U.S. A major federal program in the U.S. is still needed to get the percentage of electricity generated by solar out of single digits.