ESolar to Build Solar Thermal Plants in China

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ESolar Inc., Pasadena, CA,  signed an agreement last week to build a series of solar thermal power plants in China with a total capacity of 2,000 megawatts.

ESolar’s deal, one of the largest renewable energy projects to date, comes a few months after an Arizona company, First Solar, secured a contract to build a huge photovoltaic power plant in China.

China is emerging as a major market for renewable energy as well as a leading producer of alternative energy equipment and components.

“They’re moving very fast, much faster than the state and U.S. governments are moving,” said Bill Gross, ESolar’s chairman, told the Los Angeles Times.

Under the agreement, ESolar will provide China Shandong Penglai Electric Power Equipment Manufacturing Co. the technology to build solar “power tower” plants over the next decade. Those solar farms would generate a total of 2,000 megawatts of electricity; at peak output that would be equivalent to a large nuclear power plant.

The initial project, which includes a 92-megawatt solar power plant to be built this year, will be located in the 66-square-mile Yulin Energy Park in the Mongolian desert in northern China.

The ESolar announcement came at the same time that the Obama Administration announced it is awarding $2.3 billion in tax credits aimed at promoting green jobs. The funds from the 787-billion-dollar stimulus bill approved by Congress last year will provide credit for investments in manufacturing facilities for clean-energy technologies.

Officials said the projects are expected to create more than 17,000 jobs. The awards will cover 183 manufacturing facilities for clean energy products across 43 states, officials said. They include aid for products ranging from solar energy technology and wind turbines to electrical grid improvements.

Officials said some 30 percent of these projects would produce new products or services in 2010, and that must be placed in service by 2014.

“Building a robust clean-energy sector is how we will create the jobs of the future,” President Obama said.

He added that the fund “will help close the clean-energy gap that has grown between America and other nations while creating good jobs, reducing our carbon emissions and increasing our energy security.”

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