General Electric (GE) announced plans to boost solar power panel production by early 2010 in an attempt to convert its initial investments in renewable power into a multi-billion dollar business.

GE Energy Infrastructure vice-chairman and chief executive John Krenicki said the firm has started construction of pilot production lines at its Colorado unit.

“We’ll have more clarity around our bet in solar at the end of the year, or the beginning of next, Krenicki told the UK’s Financial Times.”

GE entered the solar power sector in 2004 with the aim of utilising its manufacturing expertise to reduce production costs to make solar power an economical alternative power source.

However, the company’s solar division has had a slow start with yearly sales at less than $200m.

GE’s initial foray into the solar power sector was through the acquisition of Astropower. It then bought a minority interest in PrimeStar Solar.

Krenicki told the newspaper that GE is seeking other acquisitions to speed up development of its solar power business.