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First Solar to Build Solar Power Plant in China

Solar module manufacturer First Solar has received initial approval from the government of China to build a 2-gigawatt solar power plant in Ordos City, Inner Mongolia. The Arizona-headquartered company says in a statement that the project, which would be the largest in the world, is to be built over a multi-year period, with Phase 1 construction beginning by June 1, 2010 and the final Phase 4 completed by 2019. "This major commitment to solar power is a direct result of the progressive energy policies being adopted in China to create a sustainable, long-term market for solar and a low-carbon future for China," says Mike Ahearn, First Solar's CEO. "We're proud to be announcing this precedent-setting project today. It represents an encouraging step towad the mass-scale deployment of solar power worldwide to help mitigate climate change concerns." The Associated Press (AP) reports that the eventual size of the solar field would be 25 square miles of solar panels. Ahearn tells the AP that a plant of this scale would be impossible to build in the United States because while there is enough land available, there are not nearly enough transmission lines; he also says that because decisions to build power lines are made at the state level, efforts at new building are often stymied by competing interests from different agencies, environmental groups, and residents. AP says the cost of the project has not yet been worked out, but that it would be a $5 billion to $6 billion project in the United States. First Solar says a final deal is subject to the negotiation and execution of definitive agreements among the company and interested government parties in China.

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