First Solar, Inc. said this week that it has signed a deal with China to build a massive 2-gigawatt solar field in Ordos City, Inner Mongolia.
The solar power field, to be completed in several phases, will possibly become the largest in the world, the company said. The Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar is the world’s largest manufacturer of thin solar panels.
The first of the four phases will begin construction by June 1, 2010, and the last phase will be completed in 2019.
“We’re proud to be announcing this precedent-setting project today,” First Solar CEO Mike Ahearn said in a statement. “It represents an encouraging step forward toward the mass-scale deployment of solar power worldwide to help mitigate climate change concerns.”
The project will operate under a “feed-in-tariff” which will guarantee the pricing of electricity produced by the power plant over a long-term period, according to First Solar. The tariff will help ensure the energy produced by the plant will cost similar to conventional electricity.
“The Chinese feed-in tariff will be critical to this project,” Ahearn said. “This type of forward-looking government policy is necessary to create a strong solar market and facilitate the construction of a project of this size, which in turn continues to drive the cost of solar electricity closer to ‘grid parity’—where it is competitive with traditional energy sources.”
The First Solar project is China’s largest solar project to date. The country is one of the world’s top polluters and recently has gone on a spending spree to procure renewable energy technologies.
Seeking the Sun
First Solar is involved in another huge solar project in Brandenburg, Germany called the Lieberose solar farm, which would become the world’s second largest upon completion.
As of Aug. 30, 560,000 solar panels had been put in place at Lieberose.
Despite the economic recession, the project—co-developed with Germany’s Juwi Group—required investments of more than 160 million euros ($232 million).
“Lieberose is a model not just in terms of power and financing, but also in the conversion of military and other unused land,” said Brandenburg Minister President Matthias Platzeck in a statement. “Land that was contaminated and off limits for years is being cleared of munitions and other pollution without any financial burden on the owner of the land, the state. The Lieberose solar park is an important step toward making solar electricity a significant force in the local economy.”
The project sits atop the largest military training site of the former Soviet Union in Germany.