NEW YORK (
) - The two gigawatt deal that First Solar has been working on in China, the Ordos solar project, may not be one that the U.S. solar bellwether can put in the bank. A report in the
says that the Chinese government is reopening the bidding for the project.
The First Solar deal to build the huge solar project in China was first announced in September 2009. Since then, the deal has run into snafus, which First Solar has commented on publicly, with project delays and trips by First Solar officials to China to try to smooth out the process with government officials.
Back in May, First Solar dispatched president Bruce Sohn to China to negotiate with Chinese officials on the plans for a national feed-in tariff, which the First Solar official said was holding up plans for plant construction. Now it seems that it was more than just the national feed-in tariff in China that has delayed First Solar in its Chinese ambitions.
First Solar had originally planned to start construction on the plant in June.
Now an official from the Chinese government in Inner Mongolia tells the
that bidding is being opened, suggesting Chinese solar leaders like
Yingli Green Energy
, among others, could make a play for the mega project.
Chinese banks have recently provided huge loan commitments to Trina, Yingli and Suntech, and as in the U.S., the doling out of deals in alternative energy is part of a national debate over job growth and fostering of domestic manufacturing capabilities.
At the same time, Suntech, Yingli and Trina have plans to move into the U.S. large-scale market and are hoping to chip away at the huge lead of First Solar, SunPower and MEMC Electronic Materials affiliate SunEdison. Yingli had planned to construct a plant in the U.S. this year, but has put those plans on hold. Suntech's first U.S. plant is in Goodyear, Arizona.
Many of the new feed-in tariff schemes have required large domestic content requirements for alternative energy companies hoping to win contracts. In the U.S., Chinese wind power player
A-Power Energy Generation Systems
( APWR) was forced to find a U.S. location to build wind turbines to move ahead with its plans to construct a massive wind project in Texas, ultimately settling on Nevada.
First Solar told the Post that it was "still negotiating the economic framework conditions for the project with our local partners," but also said that the project's start date was being pushed from this year to 2011.
Project delays and the potential for projects expected to be in a solar company's pipeline being reopened to competitive bidding are not surprises to the Street in its coverage of the solar industry as more of the solar companies focus on the large-scale solar power-plant marketplace.
-- Written by Eric Rosenbaum from New York.
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