Sterling Alternative Energy Group and China: Plan Solar Project

Houston, TX, September 09, 2010 --( Sterling Alternative Energy (Sterling AE) signed an agreement on Tuesday with Chinese government officials for a 2,500-megawatt photovoltaic farm to be built in the Mongolian desert.

Set for completion in 2020, the Sterling AE project is part of an 11,950-megawatt renewable-energy park planned for Ordos City in Inner Mongolia.

The memorandum of understanding between Chinese officials and Sterling AE would open a potentially vast solar market in China and follows the Chinese government’s recent moves to accelerate development of renewable energy.

When completed, the Ordos solar farm would generate enough electricity to power about three million Chinese homes, according to Sterling AE.

Sterling AE, based in Texas, is also likely to build a factory in China to make thin-film solar panels, said Johnathan Orgill, the company’s deputy chairman. “It is significant that a non-Chinese company can land something like this in China,” Mr. Orgill said in an interview.

Most proposed large-scale solar projects use solar thermal technology, which deploys mirrors to heat a liquid to create steam that drives an electricity-generating turbine. But as photovoltaic technology becomes more cost-competitive, utilities are turning to companies like Sterling AE for big solar power farms. Such projects generally have fewer environmental impacts and can be brought online faster than solar thermal plants.

“This is nuclear power-size scale,” Mr. Orgill said of the China project. “A two-gigawatt solar project, if this is connected and is economical at the grid level, demonstrates that solar on a large scale really does work.”

Financial terms of the agreement have yet to be reached and will depend on China completing a feed-in tariff that pays a premium for electricity generated by renewable energy projects. Sterling AE said the 2,500-megawatt power plant would cost $5 billion to $6 billion if built in the United States today, but it said the cost to build such a project in China would probably be lower.

The Ordos agreement is the latest large-scale solar farm deal that Sterling AE has signed in recent months as it expands its business from manufacturing solar modules to building power plants. The company also has agreed to supply two California utilities with 1,100 megawatts of electricity from three big solar farms.

“Discussions with Sterling AE about building a factory in China demonstrate to investors in China that they can confidently invest in the most advanced technologies available,” Cao Zhichen, vice mayor of Ordos Municipal Government, said in a statement.

About Sterling Alternative Energy:
A leader in renewable energy development across the globe, Sterling AE is one of the World's leaders in development, construction and operating projects that contribute to our aim for a sustainable and more environmental friendly future.

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Hope Wilson
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