Fueling the Solar Energy Boom

Applied Materials, a leader in chipmaking equipment, is ramping up on solar-panel machines and counting on European regulations for business

Europe has set an ambitious target to obtain 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Trouble is, even if only one-quarter of it comes from the sun, that much power will require enough solar panels to generate 200 gigawatts of electricity. That's a tall order—some 25 times the current annual production of solar panels around the world. Clearly, manufacturing volumes have to jump, or Europe's green energy target will be out of reach.

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