UPDATE 1-First Solar could supply two major U.S. projects

Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:12pm EST

Nov 16 (Reuters) - German solar project developer solarhybrid AG said on Wednesday it plans to use First Solar Inc panels in two major U.S. power plants as part of its plan to take over Solar Millennium AG's U.S. project pipeline.

The news comes three months after Solar Millennium said it would convert its massive California project - expected to one day be the world's largest solar power plant - to photovoltaic panel technology instead of solar thermal power because of the dramatic drop in the price of solar panels.

First Solar panels would be used in the 1-gigawatt Blythe project and the 500 megawatt Palen project, both located in California, solarhybrid and Solar Millennium said in a statement posted on Solar Millennium's website.

Solarhybrid also said it "intends to involve" First Solar as a partner in the takeover of Solar Millennium's 2.25-GW U.S. project pipeline. It was not immediately clear whether that would mean First Solar would take part in the acquisition of the pipeline or simply be the panel supplier for the projects.

A First Solar spokesman had no comment.

Solar Millennium and solarhybrid have been negotiating the sale of Solar Millennium's U.S. project pipeline since late summer, the companies said. The deal is expected to be finalized at the end of this month.

Many solar projects this year have elected to change most or all of their technology to PV, which turns sunlight into electricity, from concentrating solar power, or CSP, which uses heat to create steam that powers a generator.

Prices on solar panels have fallen 40 percent this year alone due to cutbacks in solar subsidies in Europe and a sharp increase in panel manufacturing capacity that has created a global glut.

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