First Solar will build plant in China

Bloomberg News / September 9, 2009

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NEW YORK - First Solar Inc., the world’s largest manufacturer of thin-film solar modules, said it will build a 2-gigawatt solar power plant in Ordos City, Inner Mongolia, China.

The project will be built in four phases, the first beginning by June 1, 2010, and completed by 2019, Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar said. The company said the project will operate under a feed-in-tariff that guarantees the pricing of the electricity generated by the plant.

“This announcement, although it’s longer-term, shows that another market is developing, which is China,’’ said Jesse Pichel, an analyst at Piper Jaffray & Co.

Under the agreement, First Solar will consider module and manufacturing sites in Ordos. The company will drive expansion of photovoltaic module production and recycling of used ones in China, First Solar said.

The agreement came during a visit to Arizona by Wu Bangguo, chairman of China’s National People’s Congress and the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit the United States since President Obama took office.

Wu also saw Honeywell International’s aerospace headquarters in Phoenix. Wu, who is leading a 100-member delegation to the United States, is scheduled to visit the White House and Capitol Hill, a top Chinese official said.

China plans to invest $293 billion in its alternative-energy industry from 2006 through 2020 as the world’s second-biggest energy consumer looks to replace use of coal and oil with cleaner-burning fuels. The nation may pass Europe, Japan, and the United States to become the world’s largest user of renewable energy by 2010, according to WorldWatch Institute.