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China to build world's largest solar power plant

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China has announced that it has signed an agreement with First Solar to build the biggest solar power plant ever. The 2,000-megawatt plant, which will be located in the Mongolian desert, will generate enough electricity to power three million homes.

China has announced that it has signed an agreement with First Solar to build the biggest solar power plant ever.

The 2,000-megawatt plant, which will be located in the Mongolian desert, will generate enough electricity to power three million homes.

Set to be completed in 2019, the project represents the world’s biggest photovoltaic power plant project to date and is part of an 11,950-megawatt renewable energy park planned for Ordos City in Inner Mongolia.

The largest solar plant currently in operation is a 60-megawatt plant in Spain.

The agreement calls for ground to be broken on the first phase of the project, which will generate 30 megawatts, by June 1, 2010.

It will be followed by 100-megawatt and 870-megawatt additions, to be completed by the end of 2014. The final 1,000-megawatt phase is scheduled to be completed by Dec. 31, 2019.

First Solar and China officially signed a memorandum of understanding, which is still up for final negotiations. A plant of this size would cost between $5 billion and $6 billion if it were built in the U.S.

Earlier this year, First Solar -- the world's largest photovoltaic cell manufacturer -- became the first company to produce solar cells at less than one U.S. dollar per watt. That achieves enough efficiency to allow solar power to be competitive with traditional energy sources. [via, via]

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Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure