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Shell Continues To Expand Solar Family

Oil company Shell, continues to expand its solar business with the opening this week of the world's most advanced solar cell production facility in Germany. The fully automated plant in Gelsenkirchen is the third solar factory in the Shell family, joining operations in Holland and Japan.

Shell New Zealand, which has been introducing Shell solar panels to the New Zealand market through its solar powered caf, the Shell Sunspot Caf, says the factory is a welcome addition to Shell's solar family.

Shell Communications Manager, Antonius Papaspiropoulos, says Shell is investing more than NZ$1billion internationally in its renewables business, and the company believes that by the year 2050, more than half the world's energy needs will be supplied by renewable resources such as solar power.

"Shell's ultimate goal is to make solar power at least five times cheaper, and more accessible than it is at present. The panels are already being used for a multitude of uses, including electricity in housing, caravans and yachts, and navigational aids like beacons and buoys."

The polycrystalline, three-dimensional panels are even finding their way into streetlighting, road, rail and ship signalling, and sculptures, Papaspiropoulos says.

"Trampers and tourists are discovering that small Shell solar packs can be taken into the wilderness and used to provide all their electrical requirements. The agricultural market has also tapped into the panels many uses, particularly in milking sheds, animal drinking troughs and electric fences."

The new German plant will meet demand in Europe and other markets such as South Africa, India and Sri Lanka where Shell has already established rural electrification businesses.

The facility includes a Solar Education Centre aimed at current and potential users of solar power, and students.

Shell has also developed a solar education kit in conjunction with LEGO, aimed at helping children understand common forms of renewable energy such as sunlight, wind and water.

A CD Rom which explores renewable energy issues has also been made available as an educational resource for schools.

Papaspiropoulos says Shell New Zealand hopes to be marketing Shell panels in this country within the next 12 months.


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