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ENN Mojave Energy, a subsidiary of China’s ENN Group, is planning to build a 720MW solar system and silicon thin-film manufacturing facility in southern Nevada.

On Tuesday, the Clark County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to begin negotiations with ENN Mojave about leasing the 22-square kilometre plot of public land, thus setting the wheels in motion for one of the world's largest PV developments.

The proposed project, titled the Mohave Green Center, will feature a 93,000-square-metre factory with the capacity to manufacture 5.4 million silicon thin-film panels a year from its six production lines. The adjoining power plant will be built in two 360MW phases, using modules from the factory. Capital investment in the project is expected to total somewhere between US$4 billion and US$6 billion.

Due to its close proximity to Nevada’s borders with California and Arizona, as well as to several substations, the plant is ideally situated to take advantage of several lucrative consumer markets. However, ENN’s representative, the former US Senator and Nevada governor Richard Bryan, has already stated that while no power purchase agreement has been signed for the project, Nevada utility NV Energy first will have first refusal; around 100MW of capacity will also be used to run the factory.

One potential stumbling block for ENN is the title restriction on land earmarked for development that forbids it being used for industrial or energy-related purposes. Although Bryan believes that with the help of the US Senate and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar this particular obstacle can be overcome.

“Senator [Harry] Reid has actually gone to China, has actually had visits with the chairman of ENN, the entire global enterprise, has actually taken a look at some of their developments there,” Bryan said. “... it would seem to me that Senator Reid would exercise his persuasive powers on behalf of the state of Nevada.”

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