XINYU CITY, China and SUNNYVALE, Calif. (

TheStreet

) --

LDK Solar

(LDK)

was up in pre-market trading by more than 2%, after it announced overnight that it had lined up a deal with

Uni Land

, an Italian real-estate banking and development company, to construct photovoltaic plants totaling 20 megawatts (MW) in 2010 and 2011.

LDK Solar will oversee engineering, procurement and construction of the plants and will also supply the solar modules. Uni Land will finance the PV project operations.

Uni Land also purchased a 1 MW plant located in Apulia Region of Italy from LDK Solar for $7.3 million.

Solar companies are anxious to expand their geographic footprint to help offset the expected reduction of feed-in tariffs in Germany, the largest market in the European region. On Wednesday, Germany released a budget that includes a big level of debt, and the overall economic concerns in Germany have increased the political pressure to bring down the level of the sweetheart tariff deals for solar companies.

SunPower

( SPWRA), in conjunction with partner

TST Recommends

SunRay Renewable Energy

, also announced early Wednesday morning that the largest solar photovoltaic power plant in Italy had been completed and had begun contributing solar power to Italy's national electric grid.

The SunPower/SunRay plant was connected to the Italian grid several weeks ahead of schedule. The SunPower plant produces enough power for 13,000 homes in the first phase of a planned 85-megawatt development that is expected to be fully operational in 2010.

SunPower has more than 500 megawatts of solar power plants in operation or under contract, including more than 200 megawatts of completed power plants in Europe.

SunPower and LDK were both up a little over 1.5% in early trading after the market opened.

In announcing its 2010 budget, Germany's government did indicate that the environment is one area in which the budget will seek to spend in order to stimulate job growth. However, the feed-in tariffs are viewed as benefiting the solar companies specifically to an outsized degree.

"We are continually expanding LDK Solar's presence in the fast-growing Italian market," stated Xiaofeng Peng, chairman and CEO of LDK Solar. "This agreement with Uni Land marks another strategic milestone for us as we strengthen our position in the European PV power plants market."

-- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.

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