One of the world's largest component suppliers, Robert Bosch, is expanding its solar panel business.

Bosch acquired a majority shareholding in Erfurt-based ersol Solar Energy last summer and is now planning to invest EUR530m to expand capacity at a site in Arnstadt.

Ersol develops and manufactures wafer-based silicon solar cells and thin-film modules. The company is planning to build a large facility for crystalline solar cells and build a new module manufacturing and assembly shop. Production is scheduled to start in 2010, with the creation of more than 1,200 new jobs. The investment is equivalent to a tripling in capacity at ersol.

An application has been made for government subsidies, but this still has to be approved by the European Commission.

Bosch is also expanding in other renewable energy business areas. Bosch Rexroth supplies components for wind turbines, and works on drive systems for marine energy generation. Bosch Termotechnology supplies heat pumps and solar collectors for hot water generation. Bosch expects to generate EUR1.2bn in sales from renewable energies this year, including EUR300m from ersol.