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Hon Hai eyes China solar energy

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd., which assembles iPhones and iPads for Apple Inc., has announced plans to invest in solar energy in China's Guangxi province.

The company's chairman, Terry Gou, first revealed his interest in investing in solar energy earlier this moth. Gou said the company wants to invest in “nonconventional solar energy.”

According to Chinese media reports, Hon Hai intends to spend tens of billions of yuan on building 20 solar power plants and five facilities to manufacturer solar power generation equipment. The firm, however, has denied the reports.

Hon Hai said that all investments the company makes must first be accepted by its board of directors, announced via the Market Observation Post System and then approved by the Ministry of Economic Affairs' investment commission. The project is currently in the planning stages, said Hon Hai, which has refused to reveal any potential investment amounts.

According to Hon Hai, it will cooperate with the Guangxi provincial government on the project, which will combine agricultural modernization and solar power generation.

Solar-powered houses which are to be constructed as part of the project will not only generate energy, but also increase agricultural produce in greenhouses and indoor facilities through enhancing plants' photosynthesis.

This is the first time the world's biggest contract electronics manufacturer has include any projects relating to agriculture in its portfolio.

The solar-powered houses will serve as the energy sources of the distributed generation system, which collects energy from many small sources, reducing the impact on the environment and improving the stability of the power supply.

This is not the first time Hon Hai has invested in green energy; since 2011 it has put money into solar energy businesses in two other Chinese provinces.

According to industry analysts, Hon Hai's new plan could become a money burner, given the downturn of solar industry in China.

China-based Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd., one of the world's biggest solar panel manufacturers, went bankrupt in March, becoming the latest casualty in the downturn of global solar industry.

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