On Monday, Germany's SolarWorld, which sports a market cap comparable to Chinese PV leader Suntech Power (NYSE:STP), announced a large expansion in its U.S. manufacturing capacity. After firing up a new Oregon-based wafer and cell production site last year, the company is now rolling out a module manufacturing facility at the same site. This will take SolarWorld's companywide capacity to more than a gigawatt by 2011. While its Teutonic competitor Q-Cells continues to struggle, SolarWorld is looking like a pretty solid solar shop.

Also on Monday, SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWRA) announced an Italian photovoltaic power plant, to be completed later this year, as the country's largest. The project weighs in at 24 megawatts (MW), or nearly two and a half times the size of the plant that Suntech hooked into the Chinese grid last week. Energy Conversion Devices (NASDAQ:ENER) revealed itself as the thin-film laminates supplier for the 4.8 MW ProLogis project that we speculated about last week, and Dow Chemical (NYSE:DOW) unveiled its promising Powerhouse solar shingle.

Dow's shingle endeavor drew support from the Department of Energy's Technology Pathway Partnership program. Another fund recipient was BP (NYSE:BP), whose solar division has achieved an 18% conversion efficiency for its cells in the lab. This is achieved using the company's Mono2 silicon, which BP says offers production costs comparable to multicrystalline substrates. If the company can successfully commercialize this technology, it may be able to challenge Suntech and Q-Cells for the module efficiency crown.

Yingli Green Energy (NYSE:YGE), like SolarWorld, is looking to increase its footprint in the U.S., and has narrowed its list of choice cities down to five. The company is reportedly only looking to invest about $20 million, though, so this is a pretty modest commitment. Compare that to Suniva, which is investing $250 million in a Michigan plant -- subject to a government loan guarantee, of course.

Rounding out the week, Solarion achieved 13.4% efficiency on a CIGS cell, which should give Ascent Solar (NASDAQ:ASTI) a run for its money, Applied Materials sold a few more of its SunFab lines, and Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced another $87 million in funding for solar. Sooey!

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Fool contributor Toby Shute doesn't have a position in any company mentioned. Check out his CAPS profile or follow his articles using Twitter or RSS. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.