Apple, SunPower partner to provide solar power to China's Aba region

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SunPower Corporation is partnering with Apple to build two solar power projects totaling 40 MW in China’s Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefectures in north-western Sichuan province.

When complete, the projects will be co-owned by Apple and SunPower’s project development joint venture, Sichuan Shengtian New Energy Development Co., Ltd.

The projects include the 20 MW Hongyuan Huanju Ecological Energy in Hongyuan County and the 20 MW Ruoergai Huanju Ecological Energy in Ruoergai County.

The projects are currently being constructed, and the Hongyuan project already has 2 MW connected to the grid utilizing SunPower’s LCPV tracker. The installation combines single-axis tracking technology with rows of parabolic mirrors, reflecting light onto high efficiency SunPower Maxeon cells. SunPower expects the projects to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2015.

The solar projects, the first deployed in the Aba Region, will provide an estimated 80 million kilowatt-hours a year while also protecting the ecosystem, according to SunPower.

The installations will feature SunPower’s "light-on-land" approach to solar PV power plant design and construction, which allows pasture farming to continue while power is generated.

"This is a tremendous groundbreaking collaboration, bringing together a diverse group of experienced partners from different parts of the globe to build renewable solar energy ventures that contribute to the local economy and the environment," said SunPower President and CEO Tom Werner, adding that the company’s partnerships in China allowed the projects to come to fruition quickly.

Werner stressed that the projects would continue to provide agricultural benefits to the local farmers while protecting the area’s land.

"We continue to value our partnership with Apple and commend them for their global environmental commitment," he added.

SunPower has provided its solar solutions to six Apple projects in the United States totaling 90 MW in California, Nevada and North Carolina. The Aba projets mark SunPower’s first international solar collaboration with Apple.

SunPower announced its Shengtian joint venture in China in October. The company is partnering with Tianjin Zhonghuan Semiconductor, Sichuan Development, Leshan Electric Power and Tianjin Tsinlien Investment to develop and own at least 3 GW of PV power plants in the country. SunPower has committed a $20 million investment in the effort in addition to supplying its solar solutions.

SunPower’s Huaxia CPV Power joint venture in Inner Mongolia currently has three 50 MW production lines in operation. SunPower is providing the company with cell packages that are being used for four SunPower LCPV projects, including the Hongyuan and Ruoergai projects in Sichuan, plus two more projects located in Inner Mongolia: a 20 MW project in Saihan and a 100 MW project in Wuchuan.