SERPA, PORTUGAL, JUNE 6, 2006 – GE Energy Financial Services, PowerLight Corporation and Catavento Lda broke ground today 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 leading global solar power system provider, has designed, and will operate and maintain this solar power plant employing the company’s innovative PowerTracker® system. Catavento, a leading 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 today 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.”
“The Serpa solar power plant is a clear example of GE’s commitment to cleaner, reliable renewable energy,” noted PowerLight CEO Tom Dinwoodie. “PowerLight is pleased to be partnering with GE Energy Financial Services to achieve this solar industry milestone.”
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.
“The Serpa solar power project, along with other renewable energy initiatives, helps lay the foundation for Portugal's energy future,” said Piero Dal Maso, co-CEO of Catavento. “The project takes maximum advantage of the excellent environmental conditions in Portugal for solar power.” Co-CEO Sergio Costa added: ”Serpa must not be a single case but a true starting point for solar power in Portugal.”
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.
“PowerLight continues to increase its leadership in the solar power plant industry in Europe,” noted Marco Northland, PowerLight’s General Manager, Europe. “We look forward to delivering more projects with GE.”
About GE Energy Financial Services
GE Energy Financial Services, based in Stamford, Connecticut USA, with European operations based in London, invested $3 billion during 2005 in the world’s most capital-intensive industry, energy. With more than $12 billion in assets, GE Energy Financial Services offers structured equity, leveraged leasing, partnerships, project finance and broad-based commercial finance to the global energy industry from wellhead to wall socket. Energy Financial Services has developed a strong record investing in solar, biomass, hydro,wind and geothermal power, and is growing its portfolio of nearly $1 billion in renewable energy assets. For more information, visit www.geenergyfinancialservices.com.
GE (NYSE: GE) is Imagination at Work -- a diversified technology, media and financial services company focused on solving some of the world's toughest problems. With products and services ranging from aircraft engines, power generation, water processing and security technology to medical imaging, business and consumer financing, media content and advanced materials, GE serves customers in more than 100 countries and employs more than 300,000 people worldwide. For more information, visit the company's Web site at www.ge.com.
PowerLight Corporation is a leading global provider of grid-connected solar electric power systems. PowerLight's turn-key solutions for commercial, government and residential customers feature a full line of proprietary solar products and technologies designed to optimize energy output and project economics. Recognized by Inc. Magazine for five consecutive years as one of the 500 fastest growing privately held companies, PowerLight designs, builds and operates many of the largest solar electric systems in North America and Europe. For more information about PowerLight and its products and services, please visit www.powerlight.com.
Catavento, Produção de Energia Eólica Lda. is one of the few private and independent Portuguese renewable energy companies. Since 2001, it has developed 110 MW in Portugal and 225 MW in Brazil. It owns and operates 9.2 MW of wind energy through partnerships and this year will build an additional 40 MW of wind projects. It is expanding in other EU countries. For more information, visit www.catavento.pt
Susan DeVico, PowerLight Corp.
Berkeley, CA, USA
Piero Dal Maso, Catavento
351 21 421 2345
Ken Koprowski, GE
Stamford, CT, USA
Elma Peters, GE