GE Bets on Solar with Majority Primestar Stake

Solar energy is playing a bigger role inGeneral Electric’senergy portfolio, and GE Energy has announced it is taking a majority stake in PrimeStar Solar.

"As we look at long-term renewables, we believe solar has a very strong role to play, and thin-film technology, we believe, is the best long-term solution for cost-effective solar," said Steve Bolze, vice president of GE Energy.

Bolze says GE’s investment in solar power will be similar to its investment in the wind business.

"We entered the wind business about six years ago with the acquisition of the Enron wind assets," he said. "That’s grown now ten-fold to over a $6 billion business for us, and we want to put solar on the same track." (See the CNBC interview at left.)

The setback with solar currently is cost. Solar energy is about six times more expensive per kilowatt-hour than wind, Bolze said. However, with economies of scale, he believes the cost will come down.

"We’re very bullish on solar for the long-term, but again, cost is going to be the key. Technology’s got a key role to play there, and we want to play big," he said.

Other solar power firms include First Solar , SunPower , Suntech Power and Yingli Green Energy .