April 16, 2015 / 1:30 PM / 4 years ago

SunPower, Apple to build solar projects in China

(Reuters) - Solar panel maker SunPower Corp said it would partner with Apple Inc to build two solar power projects in China’s Sichuan province with total capacity of 40 megawatts.

The projects, when complete, will be co-owned by Apple and Sichuan Shengtian New Energy Development Co Ltd, SunPower’s project development joint venture.

Completion of the projects, which are expected to provide up to 80 million kilowatt-hours per year, is expected in the fourth quarter of 2015, SunPower said.

Shares of SunPower, which is majority owned by French energy

giant Total SA, were up 1.4 percent at $33.85 in early trading on the Nasdaq on Thursday.

China set a higher-than-expected target for solar power installations for 2015 last month as it seeks to boost renewable energy use.

China said it aims to install 17.8 gigawatts (GW) of solar power capacity this year, up nearly 20 percent from the original goal of 15 GW, with nearly 70 percent from the 10.52 GW of solar generation capacity China installed last year.

Apple, which uses renewable energy to power its data centers, said in February it would buy about $850 million of power from First Solar Inc’s California solar farm to cut its energy bill.

SunPower and longstanding rival First Solar last month announced a limited partnership, 8point3 Energy Partners LP, to jointly own some assets. The companies also filed for a proposed initial public offering of the YieldCo.

The move is expected to generate stable cash flows for the companies that have been expanding their power plant businesses.

Reporting By Shubhankar Chakravorty in Bengaluru; Editing by Robin Paxton and Ted Kerr

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