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March 22 (Reuters) - Enbridge Inc said it bought a 50-megawatt project in Nevada from First Solar Inc for undisclosed terms, marking the Canadian company's entry into the U.S. solar energy market.
The Silver State North photovoltaic (PV) project, that was constructed by First Solar, is expected to begin commercial operation by May.
"The U.S. solar market presents significant growth opportunities given the excellent solar resource," said Don Thompson, vice president, green energy, Enbridge.
The U.S. solar industry installed a record number of panels in 2011, more than double 2010, and is likely to see strong growth again this year, according to a new report.
Pat Daniel, chief executive of Enbridge -- which is Canada's No. 2 pipeline company and has a portfolio of wind, solar and geothermal projects -- has positioned the company as a renewable power supplier. Daniel will retire this year.
Silver State North, which will use First Solar's advanced thin film PV modules, will generate solar energy to serve the needs of about 9,000 average Nevada homes per year, the companies said in a statement.
First Solar, the world's lowest-cost solar panel manufacturer, will provide maintenance services to Enbridge under a long-term contract. (Reporting by Bhaswati Mukhopadhyay in Bangalore; Editing by Brenton Cordeiro)