Chinese solar plant expected to be the biggest  

Posted by Big Gav in , , , ,

The Huffington Post has an article on a planned Chinese solar plant that would be the world's largest (lots of those around) - this one is a 2GW thin film solar plant using technology from First Solar - Chinese solar plant expected to be the biggest.

First Solar Inc. said Tuesday it has received initial approval from the Chinese government to build what may become the largest solar field in the world.

First Solar, which makes more solar cells than any other company, said it struck a tentative 10-year deal to build in China's vast desert north of the Great Wall. The project would eventually blanket 25 square miles of Inner Mongolia – slightly larger than the size of Manhattan – with a sea of black, light-absorbing glass.

The solar field would dwarf anything in operation in the U.S. or Europe. At 2 gigawatts, or 2 billion watts, the solar plant could pump as much energy onto China's grid as two coal-fired plants, enough to light up three million homes. Like most solar plants, however, it wouldn't produce electricity at night.

"The potential is enormous" for projects like this in China, CEO Mike Ahearn told The Associated Press before the announcement. "The Chinese government is further along in its thinking about solar than we've imagined."

Ahearn said it would be nearly impossible to install a solar field of this size in the United States. There's plenty of land, but there's not enough near transmission lines, Ahearn said.

And efforts to build new power lines are regularly stymied by competing interests from government agencies, environmental groups and disgruntled residents. ...

Ahearn said First Solar spent the past few months searching for partners in China, culminating with its 2-gigawatt deal in Inner Mongolia. Like the U.S., China has taken aggressive steps to move away from fossil fuels. It located the First Solar plant in Ordos, a gritty industrial city of 1.4 million people that is the main production base for China's largest coal company.

The project hasn't been given an exact location yet, but the agreement said it will be located within a massive development zone that is expected to eventually offer nearly 12 gigawatts of renewable energy from wind, solar, biomass and hydroelectric power. First Solar will provide most of the solar, with the first 30 megawatts installed by June 1, 2010. The company will expand the plant over the next decade, installing about 27 million thin-film panels by 2019.

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