China's expanding solar power industry heated up even further this week with an announcement by U.S.-based GT Solar International that it has opened its new Asia headquarters in Shanghai

GT Solar’s new facility “makes it easier for Asian companies to conduct business with GT Solar by reducing the time it takes to obtain products, spare parts and service,” according to a company statement. The new facility represents a significant expansion of GT Solar’s presence in Asia, which was first established in 2006.” GT Solar’s 50,000 square feet Asia headquarters is located at the Gaodong Industrial Park and includes “a state-of-the-art customer demonstration and training centre and an area dedicated to light manufacturing and assembly.”

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“This is an exciting day for GT Solar,” said Tom Zarrella, President and CEO of GT Solar. “Our company has experienced tremendous growth in Asia over the past several years, developing a leading market position in polysilicon reactors, specialized furnaces, and engineering and integration services for the photovoltaic industry.”

Arizona-based First Solar, meanwhile, announced a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese government to build a 2 gigawatt solar power plant in Ordos City, Inner Mongolia. The solar project “will be built over a multi-year period,” according to a company statement. “Phase 1 will be a 30 megawatt demonstration project that will begin construction by June 1, 2010. Phases 2, 3 and 4 will be 100 megawatts, 870 megawatts, and 1,000 megawatts. Phases 2 and 3 will be completed in 2014 and Phase 4 will be completed by 2019.”

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