Portuguese power

GE Energy Financial Services, PowerLight Corporation and Catavento Lda have broken ground on the world’s largest solar photovoltaic power project.



The 11-megawatt solar power plant, comprising 52,000 photovoltaic modules, is under construction in Serpa, Portugal, 200 kilometers (124 miles) southeast of Lisbon in one of Europe‘s sunniest areas.



GE Energy Financial Services is financing and will own the facility in a $75 million transaction. PowerLight, a global solar power system provider, has designed, and will operate and maintain this solar power plant employing the company’s PowerTracker system.



Catavento, a Portuguese renewable energy company, developed the project and will provide management services. Deliveries of photovoltaic modules and structural steel have begun, and construction of an electric substation is under way. The project – on a 60-hectare (150-acre) southern-facing hillside that will remain productive farmland — is scheduled for full power operation by January 2007.



“This project is a wonderful example of collaboration among a financial institution, manufacturer and project developer for a high-tech facility that will benefit the Portuguese people, economy and environment,” Mario Armero, president of GE Portugal and GE Spain, said at a groundbreaking ceremony in Serpa. “For GE, it’s a major step in our growth in renewable energy and our ecomagination initiative to help overcome environmental challenges.”



According to GE, with no fuel cost or emissions, the Serpa solar installation will produce electricity sufficient to power 8,000 homes and save more than 30,000 tons a year in greenhouse gas emissions compared with equivalent fossil fuel generation.



The project is expected to be Portugal‘s first large photovoltaic installation to go online.


PowerLight’s PowerTracker is the world’s most widely used solar power system for large-scale power plants because of its efficiency and reliability. The company’s patented tracking technology follows the sun as it moves across the sky throughout the day, generating more electricity than conventional fixed-mount systems.