Project Focus: eSolar, Penglai Electric sign deal to build 2GW of solar thermal plants in China

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In the first major Chinese move into solar thermal energy, Penglai Electric has signed a master licensing deal with eSolar to build several concentrating solar power plants over the next decade. Penglai, a privately held electrical power equipment manufacturer, plans to develop 2GW of power stations in the Mongolian desert of northern China by 2021 using eSolar’s power tower technology.

The companies said that groundbreaking on the first 92MW installation will take place later this year. China Huadian Engineering will lead the construction process, and China Shaanxi Yulin Huayang New Energy will own and operate the first plant once it’s completed.

The solar plants will be colocated with biomass electricity generation facilities.

“To date, eSolar offers the only CSP tower technology that has demonstrated commercial maturity and economic feasibility,” said Zhao Weikang, chairman/president of Shaanxi Yulin Huayang New Energy. “We’re excited to build our initial hybrid plant as part of the 170-square-kilometer Yulin Alternative Energy Park, the first large-scale alternative energy park in China.”

The Los Angeles Times reports that eSolar manufactures the critical heliostat arrays for its systems in China, and that the deal with Penglai calls for the Pasadena, CA-based company to build its power plant receivers there as well.

ESolar activated the 5MW Sierra SunTower demonstration power plant in Lancaster, CA, in August, a site that was visited by Penglai executives during the negotiations, according to the Times.

“We have almost half a year of production and enough convincing data to convince a company that the technology works as advertised,” eSolar chairman Bill Gross told the paper.

The news follows First Solar’s September announcement that the U.S.-based thin-film module manufacturer and project developer had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese government to build a 2GW solar photovoltaic power plant in Ordos City, Inner Mongolia, China, north of the site of the proposed eSolar installations.

The first 30MW demonstration system for that multiphase project will begin construction by June 1; First Solar has also said it “will review the possibility of module and supplier manufacturing sites in Ordos.”


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