First Solar (FSLR) announced this morning that it will build the world’s largest solar plant in China. It will be a 2 GW farm on 16,000 acres in the Mongolian desert. It’s projected to cost between $5 and $6 billion. You have to pay up if you want to be the biggest and the best, we suppose.
The deal demonstrates several interesting trends. First: the Chinese government is getting ever more aggressive when it comes to turning the country into a substantial solar customer, as opposed to its current role as mainly a solar panel supplier to developed countries.
In March the country approved a subsidy for building-mounted photovoltaic systems which could pay up to 20 Chinese yuan (about $2.93) per watt for systems larger than 50 kilowatts. For ground-mounted projects (like the Mongolian project announced today) the government plans to pay a feed-in tariff for the electricity generated, instead of a subsidy based on the projects’ capacity. The government also has one of the most aggressive renewable portfolio standards in the world, aiming to get 20 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, with some 100 GW of wind capacity and 1.8 GW of solar.
China in general is swiftly looking to be the world leader in renewable energy technology, which is something that’s making U.S. leaders increasingly nervous. Continue reading>
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