Baotou. It’s the largest city in Inner Mongolia in the northeastern part of China, situated upon the Great Bend of the Yellow River. Soon to be built in Baotou is a 500-MW solar PV power plant to be designed, installed, operated and maintained by fast-growing, corporate giant Canadian Solar.
Canadian Solar’s history, vertically integrated as it is, is primarily characterized by solar manufacturing. The company has been manufacturing silicon ingots, wafers, solar cells and solar panels for several years. Canadian Solar now has a module capacity of over 600 MW according to the company’s website.
The Batou plant will be divided into three phases. Phase one involves a 100-MW PV system to be completed by the end of 2011. The final two phases will be 200 MW each. Nothing, by the way, regarding the agreement to build the power plant in Baotou is binding until feasibility studies are completed and all government approvals obtained. In other words, all parties involved in the deal, including Canadian Solar and Baotou leaders, have good intentions, but the project is still very tentative.
Canadian Solar could just as well be called “Chinese Solar” at this point, having established seven wholly-owned manufacturing subsidiaries in the People’s Republic since its inception in Canada in 2001. It’s unclear from the company website whether Canadian Solar manufactures any solar products at all in its home country. It would appear that all of its operations are conducted out of China. Either way, Canadian Solar is fast becoming a corporate solar bigwig. According to its own numbers, the company experienced 134% growth between 2007 and 2008. The proposed plant in Baotou should help carry those kind of numbers into the future.
Canadian Solar just opened its first U.S. branch this year in San Ramon, California.