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German SolarWorld expects 25 pct growth in 2002

German SolarWorld expects 25 pct growth in 2002
FRANKFURT - Bonn-based solar wafer producer SolarWorld AG said yesterday it expected annual turnover to grow by 25 percent this year and that it planned a share issue to fund an increase in production capacity.
The company said revenue in the first four months rose by over 50 percent and predicted full-year 2002 revenue of over 100 million euros ($91.7 million). Its turnover grew 60 percent in 2001. It plans to issue 825,000 new shares between May 16 and June 4 for a capital increase of 5.7 million euros. Westdeutsche Genossenschafts-Zentralbank will handle the share issue. SolarWorld previously said that by year-end it expected to be the world\'s biggest solar wafer producer, Europe\'s number one solar cell maker and second only to BP in European solar module production. The planned expansion would help keep it a leader in a market that the company said last month was growing by 25-30 percent a year. \"The additional capital will be poured into the construction and expansion of one of the world\'s most modern integrated solar factories on the site of the company\'s unit Deutsche Solar AG in Freiberg, Saxony,\" SolarWorld said in a statement. \"Deutsche Solar is Europe\'s biggest manufacturer of solar silicon wafers and plans to increase production from 80 megawatts (MW) in mid-2002 to 220 MW by the end of 2004,\" it added. The wafers are used to produce solar cells, which are then used to convert sunlight into electricity. It added it would have a solar silicon wafer capacity of 120 MW and module production capacity of 30 MW by year-end. The firm said it also planned to increase its capacity of solar cells and solar modules by 60 MW each by 2004. SolarWorld Chief Executive Officer Frank Asbeck told Reuters in February he expected his firm would overtake Japanese competition to become the world\'s leading solar silicon wafer producer by the end of 2002. Asbeck said last October that he planned a joint venture with a leading chemicals firm to produce silicon for use in solar power cells. While he would not confirm rumours that its partner would be German chemicals giant Degussa, Asbeck said he would announce the deal at the end of May. The world\'s solar market is growing by around 25-30 percent a year, while SolarWorld\'s turnover rose 60 percent in 2001. The firm said it would appoint a chief financial officer in October in preparation for its listing on the stock exchange. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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