Peterborough, New Hampshire [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] Demand for solar photovoltaics (PV) are on the rise in the United States and Europe, and manufacturers are stepping up production to meet whatever 2005 could bring. Sharp Solar is one of the most recent companies to announce an annual production increase from 315 MW to 400 MW at its Katsuragi Plant in Nara Prefecture.According to the press release from Sharp, “The momentum behind the introduction of renewable energy in countries around the world continues to grow. Efforts along these lines include the Kyoto Protocol, which aims at preventing global warming, going into effect in February 2005; the strengthening of policies in European countries to encourage more widespread use, in particular, the new Renewable Energy Law in Germany; and incentives being put in place by various states in the US.” The statement continued, “Reflecting these efforts, the total amount of electrical energy produced annually from photovoltaic sources (solar cells) in fiscal 2004 is estimated to be approximately 900 MW, and predictions are that this figure will grow to a level exceeding 1.1 GW (gigawatts) in fiscal 2005.” When it comes to MW estimates of PV cell production levels, Industry Analyst Paul Maycock estimates that 2004 figures should show at least 1,050 MW. Japan leads production at 500 MW, Europe is second at 300 MW, the United States has 140 MW, and the rest of the world balances out production at 140 MW. Maycock is collecting information on the actual production numbers and stated in the December edition of PV News that he will have final numbers by the March edition. Sharp is far from the only company to announce a major production increase, however, as at least eight other companies are investing in PV production growth for 2005. – BP has committed to increasing production at its Fredrick, Maryland facility from 90 MW to 200 MW by the end of 2005, and has put an investment of US $25 million toward the expansion. The company is also going to start marketing a ready to install PV kit through The Home Depot stores called BP Solar Home Solutions. – RWE Schott Solar has committed to a 40 MW increase at its Bavaria facility, which would increase the company’s facility wide production to 100 MW. – Kyocera opened a new 36 MW production facility in Tijuana, Mexico pushing its total production capacity to 240 MW for 2005. The company has also increased cell production at its facility in Japan for a total of 20 MW, and module production at its Czech Republic facility to 1 MW worth of assembled modules a month. – Q Cell in Germany has increased its production from 170 MW annually to 320 MW. – Sun Power doubled production at its facility in the Philippines for a total of 50 MW. – Evergreen Solar in Massachusetts increased its solar string production capacity to 15 MW. – SolarWorld AG of Germany is in the middle of construction on a new production hall for the expansion of cell crystallization growth by installing 12 new kilns. This will increase the facility’s capacity by 40 MW for a total of 160 MW. Wafer production will also increase at the plant, and the combination of production increases will give the company an annual capacity of 120 MW, which is product ready for sale to its customers. – Cell manufacturer Photovoltech will increase production at its Belgium facility from 13 MW to almost 80 MW in 2006. Photovoltech is a group company owned by Total, Electrabel, Soltech and Imec. The notion of establishing a varied energy supply and cleaner source of power is growing. Whether the notion is seen as countries trying to meet the targets of the Kyoto Protocol or mandated renewable portfolio standards, individual states in the U.S. establishing rebates for system installation, or federal legislation in the U.S. offering production tax credits to developers and companies; solar PV production is growing to meet the expected increase in demand.