U.S. Firm Teams Up With Chinese Partner To Develop Solar Projects

BEIJING (AP) — First Solar Inc., a U.S. maker of solar power equipment, announced an agreement Tuesday with a Chinese power company to develop solar projects in the United States, China and elsewhere.

First Solar's agreement with China Power International New Energy Holding Ltd. gives the Tempe, Arizona-based company a politically well-connected partner as it tries to expand in China.

First Solar is developing a solar power plant in the northern Chinese city of Ordos that is due to be one of the world's biggest, with 2 gigawatts of generating capacity.

China Power International New Energy has developed wind, solar and other renewable energy projects in China. Its chairwoman is Li Xiaolin, a leading figure in China's power industry and the daughter of former Premier Li Peng.

The company is owned by China Power New Energy Development Co., a Hong Kong-based company whose biggest shareholder is CPI Group, a major government-owned power plant operator.

The partners have yet to decide on power projects for cooperation, said T.K. Kallenbach, president of First Solar's Components Business Group. He said CPINE wants to expand into the United States and the two companies also might look at Europe.

First Solar is a technology supplier while CPINE has experience building power plants in China and integrating them into the distribution grid, said Kallenbach.

"We think that particular skill set is very important," he said. "What we bring is knowledge of the local market" in the United States.

Kallenbach said there have been no changes in First Solar's plans for Ordos, where the company has said it wants to start construction this year of the power station's first stage of 30 megawatts.