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US firm says it will build China's largest solar energy plant

Updated: 2009-09-14 07:37
(China Daily)

First Solar Inc said it plans to build the world's largest solar plant in China in the first major foray by a US company into the country's fast-growing alternative energy sector.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese government, First Solar will build a two-gigawatt power plant, enough to power about 3 million Chinese households, at Ordos in Inner Mongolia.

First Solar also will consider building a manufacturing plant in China.

The announcement came as the solar industry struggles to emerge from a year-long slump that saw financing for new projects dry up and reduced subsidies in Spain create a glut of unsold cells and panels.

The project is part of China's program to generate 10 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2010 to meet energy needs at a time when China has become the world's top emitter of carbon dioxide.

First Solar will begin constructing a 30-megawatt demonstration project in June 2010 in Ordos.

The second and third phases call for 100-mW and 870-mW projects that will be completed in 2014. A final 1,000-mW installation will be finished in 2019.

Solar projects have so far been built on a smaller scale, and the First Solar project will be a test of whether the technology behind the plant - which will be 30 times the size of the largest current plant - can be scaled up.

"In most people's heads, (solar) is a nice little niche thing," First Solar Chairman and Chief Executive Michael Ahearn said.

"Having a demonstration of something that's the size of a nuclear plant will begin to change that image," Ahearn said.

The agreement also would depend on Beijing's approval of a feed-in tariff mandating that utilities pay a premium for solar power.


(China Daily 09/14/2009 page3)

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