The project, which will be spread over three years (from 2006 to 2008), is aimed at producing solar energy modules that make it possible, as the main part of an integrated solar energy system, to convert sunlight into electricity.

The project is expected to create around 1,000 new jobs in Frankfurt (Oder) which is a disadvantaged area eligible for regional aid and has an unemployment rate of 20.1%.

The aid would partly be paid in the form of a grant under a scheme for regional economic improvement, while the rest would take the form of a tax reduction under an investment premiums law.

The Commission concluded that the aid would be compatible with the rules on regional state aid to large investment projects. It came to this decision by taking into account the fact that, at group level, the aid beneficiary has no market shares above 25% in any of the possible relevant product and geographical markets concerned, either before or after the investment.

Moreover, the Commission verified that the average annual growth rate of the apparent consumption of the products concerned by the project over the last five years is above the average annual growth rate of the European Economic Areas’ GDP.

I am pleased to approve aid for this important investment in the renewable energy sector in Europe, commented EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes. The project will contribute to regional development and job creation in eastern Germany without unduly distorting competition.