* Suntech to develop four utility-scale projects
* Size of projects totals 1.8 gigawatts
* Projects contingent on permits, financing (Recasts, adds analyst comment, updates share activity)
LOS ANGELES, July 13 (Reuters) - Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd STP.N said it reached agreements to develop four solar power plants in China, giving the largest Chinese solar company a strong foothold in what many believe will one day be a major solar market.
Suntech said on Monday it struck the 1.8 gigawatts of solar power deals with the governments of Shaanxi and Qinghai provinces as well as the Shizuishan and Panzhihua city governments. The Shaanxi development will be 300 megawatts, while the remaining three projects will be 500 MW each.
Implementation of the projects is subject to obtaining permits from the National Development and Reform Commission and attracting necessary investment and project financing, Suntech said.
“These projects are still in the preliminary stages but underscore the importance of the Chinese market as the scale of solar projects in China will be much larger than those in other countries, on average,” Simmons & Co analyst Burt Chao said in a client note. “The release underscores (Suntech’s) ability to secure meaningful share in the Chinese market as the largest and highest-profile Chinese solar company.”
Suntech had said last month that it was in talks to develop a 500 MW project in Qinghai province, sending its shares higher. U.S.-listed Chinese solar companies have benefited from expectations that the Chinese government is preparing to offer a feed-in tariff to encourage adoption of photovoltaic (PV) solar power.
Suntech shares rose 57 cents, or 4 percent, to close at $14.92 on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock has gained more than 27 percent so far this year. (Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Gary Hill and Tim Dobbyn)
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