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Another solar plant to open in Tibet

Suntech, a China-based solar manufacturing giant, plans to build a 10-megawatt plant in Tibet.

A school in Tuicun Village in Tibet where Suntech donated solar panels. Suntech

Suntech Power, the China-based solar manufacturing giant, plans to build a 10-megawatt plant in Tibet.

The plant will be located in the Tibetan village of Chek Kang, which is located in Sangri County, Shannan Prefecture, Suntech announced yesterday.

Last month, the Chinese government announced it was building a 10-megawatt solar plant in Shigatse, Tibet's second largest city, which is also home to the huge Tashilhunpo Monastery built in the 15th century.

Suntech will not only provide the solar photovoltaics for the Chek Kang project but also oversee its engineering and construction, a Suntech representative said in an e-mail.

The plant is expected to supply 20,000-megawatt hours of electricity per year when completed. Suntech will manage the plant and sell the electricity to the Zangzhong grid for middle Tibet, according to the Suntech rep.

Both solar projects are intended to ease local power shortages.

Tibet has been relying on a hydroelectric power that has been unable to keep up with demand due to the area's increased development and to recent droughts.

Tibet has been a source of international tension for China since it took over the country and sent the Dalai Lama into exile in 1959. Since then, the area has come under scrutiny regarding human rights, religious freedom, and an Internet firewall imposed on Tibet by the Chinese government.

The Suntech project was announced the day after the Dalai Lama and Tibet's parliament-in-exile began month-long elections around the world to choose their next leader. The Dalai Lama announced in early March that he had decided to retire from his political role, though he will remain his people's spiritual leader.

Tibetans in Tibet and Nepal have been banned from participating in the elections, according to several news sources.