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China To Reduce Coal Use in 2009 reports that China will complete two solar plants this year as part of an effort to reduce coal use

The two plants will be built in the western plateau province of Qinghai and the southwestern province of Yunnan.

The Qinghai project, which eventually will generate 1 gigawatt, will enter the first phase of construction this year. The $146 million project is expected to be the largest in the world when it is complete, Xinhua reports.

China Technology Development Group Corp. and Qinghai New Energy Group are working on the Qinghai project.

The southwestern Yunnan province has just started building its 166-megawatt plant, worth $1.3 billion, the largest Chinese investment so far in a solar project.

"The cost of solar generation is still relatively high compared with the developed solar markets - Germany and Japan," said Charles Yonts, a solar and clean-tech analyst. "But we will see costs come down rapidly as installers gain more experience."

Statistics from the China Renewable Energy Society suggest more than two-thirds of China gets more than 2,200 hours of sunshine per year, making China's potential solar energy resources equivalent to 1,700 billion tons of coal.