eSolar strikes deal to build power plants in China
9, 2010 - The Associated Press
A U.S. solar power company said Saturday
it will help build a series of solar thermal power plants in China, as the world's
biggest emitter of greenhouse gases tries to decrease its heavy reliance on coal,
imported gas and oil.
California-based eSolar Inc. will provide Shandong
Penglai Electric Power Equipment Manufacturing Co. with the technology and information
to build the concentrated solar thermal power farms with a capacity totaling 2,000
The $5 billion investment would be the largest such project
in China, though the companies didn't say who would be investing how much.
is a huge jump for China," said Deborah Seligsohn, director of the China climate
program for the U.S-based World Resources Institute. "That amount suggests a number
of commercial plants."
Interest in China as a solar energy market is growing
quickly as the government looks for alternatives to coal. Saturday's deal comes
four months after the largest solar panel maker in the U.S., First Solar, struck
a tentative deal to build a massive solar field in China.
The eSolar deal
is for concentrated solar thermal power - not the traditional image of vast farms
of solar panels, but a system of taking what essentially are mirrors and focusing
them to heat water to create steam to power a generator.
in the world for both systems, and we need both," Seligsohn said.
is moving much faster than the U.S. in solar power development, eSolar officials
"This is an excellent example of what we all must do to fight climate
change," Merrick Kerr, eSolar's chief financial officer, told a news conference
Saturday in Beijing.
The first solar plant under the deal will be in Yulin
city in the central province of Shaanxi.
China has set ambitious goals
for solar and other renewable energy in an effort to clean up its environment
and curb surging demand for imported oil and gas, which communist leaders see
as a strategic weakness.
Late last year, legislators approved changes to
China's 2006 renewable energy law saying utilities will be required to buy all
the power produced by wind farms and other renewable sources in an effort to reduce
heavy reliance on coal.
Government goals issued in 2005 call for at least
15 percent of China's power to come from wind, solar and hydropower by 2020, up
from 9 percent now. Officials say that target may be raised to 20 percent because
the industry is developing so quickly.
Coal, however, provides two-thirds
of China's power and is expected to remain the dominant energy source in coming
China is the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and is
not bound by global agreements on curbing emissions because it is a developing
economy. But the State Council, or China's Cabinet, has promised to reduce emissions
of carbon dioxide for each unit of economic output by 40 percent to 45 percent
from 2005 levels by 2020.