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Suntech solar rooftop project gets government kickstart

China-based Suntech Power Holdings, one the world's largest manufacturers of solar power modules, has announced it is to build the largest grid-connected solar installation in Jiangsu province with help from government subsidies.

The 1.5 megawatt (MW) system will be built on 19,000 square meters of industrial rooftop in Huaian city and is expected be completed by October. Suntech said there are no existing rooftop solar projects larger than 1 MW in Jiangsu.

For the new project, the firm teamed up with state-owned company Jiangsu Guoxin Group, which owns the factory and warehouse buildings that will house the rooftop panels.

New York Stock Exchange-listed Suntech said that the project had been made viable by recently announced government solar subsidies.

In March, the Chinese government said it would provide cash grants of $2.90 per watt for installations of at least 50 kilowatts. The scheme is aimed at encouraging solar projects in the country and providing a boost to domestic photovoltaic companies, which are currently experiencing slimmer profit margins after scaling up production capacity only to be hit by the onset of the global recession.

China is the world's largest manufacturer of solar panels, but most of the solar cells and panels it produces are exported to Europe and the US. Only around two per cent of photovoltaic cells and panels made in China in 2008 were used domestically, according to government figures.

The Chinese-language China Business News recently reported that the Jiangsu provincial government is set to launch additional solar subsidies, with the intention of raising Jiangsu's rooftop capacity from the current 10 MW to 40 MW in 2010, rising to 180 MW in 2011.

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