From: Associated Press
Published June 7, 2006 12:00 AM

Construction on World's Largest Solar Power Plant Starts in Southern Portugal

LISBON, Portugal — U.S. energy companies GE Energy and PowerLight Corporation, and Portuguese renewable energy company Catavento began building the world's largest solar power plant on Tuesday.

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

The euro61 million (US$78.5 million) plant is expected to be completed by January 2007 and is being constructed on a 60-hectare (150-acre) southern-facing hillside that will continue to be used as farmland, the companies said in a statement.

GE Energy Financial Services is financing the project with US$75 million and will own the facility. PowerLight, a leading global solar power system provider, designed the plant and will operate and maintain it. Catavento developed the project and will provide management services.

"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."

The plant will produce enough electricity to supply 8,000 homes and save more than 30,000 tons in greenhouse gas emissions when compared to fossil fuels, the statement said.

"For GE, its a major step in our growth in renewable energy ... to help overcome environmental challenges," Mario Armero, president of GE Portugal and GE Spain, said at a groundbreaking ceremony in Serpa.

Source: Associated Press

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