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Google, TransCanada set solar plant deals

Google Inc and TransCanada Corp announced deals to buy solar power projects on Tuesday, just days after billionaire Warren Buffett made his second major purchase in the sector. Prices for solar panels have fallen more than 40 percent this year, pushing the cost to install the renewable energy systems to their cheapest levels ever.

But solar panel makers have struggled as the price decline eroded profit margins for the nascent industry, driving share prices across the sector sharply lower. Google is teaming up with private equity firm KKR & Co to buy four solar plants in California with a total capacity of 88 megawatts from developer Recurrent Energy, which is owned by Sharp Corp.

The deal, whose financial terms were not disclosed, brings Google's total investment in the sector to more than $915 million. Solar installations in the United States have reached record levels this year, with more than 1,000 MW installed through the first nine months of the year, about equal to the output of a large nuclear reactor.

Copyright Reuters, 2011