Thursday, November 29, 2007

Chinese firms mull silicon JV for solar production

SHANGHAI, Nov 28 (Reuters) - China's Baoding Tianwei Baobian Electric Co Ltd said on Wednesday it plans to jointly invest in projects worth a combined 4.9 billion yuan ($663.4 million) to make polysilicon products used in solar energy equipment.

Under a tentative plan, Tianwei Baobian plans to build two plants, each with an annual capacity of 3,000 tonnes, in the southwestern province of Sichuan, it said in a statement.

China is encouraging solar power production as part of efforts to boost renewable energy and cut its dependence on coal to fuel its booming economy.

Some Chinese solar companies such as Suntech Power Co and JA Solar Holdings Co Ltd have listed shares in the overseas stock markets. But tight silicon supplies have hampered panel production from small solar companies.

Tianwei plans to have a 51 percent stake in one of the polysilicon projects, with Sichuan Minjiang Hydropower Co Ltd taking a 14 percent stake and the Sichuan Provincial Investment Corp having the remaining 35 percent, the statement said.

In the other polysilicon project, Tianwei plans to take a 49 percent stake and another Sichuan-based company -- Leshan Electric Power Co Ltd -- plans to have a 51 percent interest, it said.
The projects require regulatory approval, it added.

Leshan Electric and Minjiang Hydropower issued similar statements about the silicon projects on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Charlie Zhu; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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