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China plans 500-megawatt solar plant

Canadian owner of Chinese manufacturing subsidiaries scores rights to solar installations in Inner Mongolia.

Canadian Solar has been granted rights to develop a 500-megawatt solar power plant in Baotou, Inner Mongolia, China, the company announced Wednesday.

Baotou is a manufacturing city on the Yellow River in Inner Mongolia with a population of over 2 million, according to the Chinese government's official Baotou Web site.

Canadian Solar's agreement is with the Administration Committee of Baotou National Rare-Earth Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone, also known as its Chinese abbreviation "CPT." The signed agreement includes rights "to design, install, operate, and maintain" the solar power plant in Baotou.

"To have a solar project of such magnitude in Baotou demonstrates our determination to develop the PV end-user market in China, as well as our commitment to cleaner and more sustainable economic development in Baotou," Fu Ren, the committee's director, said in a statement released to the U.S. press.

Canadian Solar, while founded in Canada, has subsidiaries based in China that already manufacture both solar cells and solar panel systems among other things. The Baotou solar project, subject to regulatory approval, will develop in three stages.

Stage one will include the installation of 100 megawatts of photovoltaics between September 2009 and December 2011, followed by two more development phases, each including 200-megawatt installations.

While the installation is massive, this is not the first of its kind. In October 2008, the U.S. Army announced plans to build a 500-megawatt solar thermal power farm in Fort Irwin, Calif. in an effort to reduce its annual energy costs.

And the newly formed Solar Trust was also recently granted rights to to develop the construction and installation of two or three 242-megawatt solar power plants for California that would be operational by 2013 or 2014.

Baotou, a city in Inner Mongolia, China, is about 12 hours northwest of Beijing by train. MultiMap from Bing