GE Energy Financial Services, a unit of General Electric (NYSE: GE), PowerLight, a subsidiary of SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ: SPWR) and Catavento dedicated the 11-megawatt Serpa solar power plant on March 28, on schedule.
GE Energy Financial Services financed and purchased the project in an approximately US $75 million transaction last year. PowerLight designed, deployed, operates and maintains the plant. The plant uses PowerLight's PowerTracker(R) system that follows the sun's daily path across the sky to generate more electricity than conventional fixed-mounted systems. Catavento did the project development, permitting and manages the project, which began feeding Portugal's electricity grid in late January.
Construction of the Serpa project began in June 2006 and was completed, as planned, in January 2007. The facility consists of a ground-mounted solar tracking photovoltaic system that uses silicon solar cell technology to convert sunlight directly into energy. The Serpa solar power plant incorporates photovoltaic modules from SunPower, Sanyo, Sharp and Suntech.
The plant is on a 60-hectare (150-acre) hillside, equivalent to the area of more than 80 football fields. The panels are 2 meters off the ground enough for sheep to graze underneath, and the Serpa park will double as pasture for livestock.
According to the MIT Technology Review the plant is designed to operate with no staff on site. Rain will wash the panels occasionally. PowerLight and General Electric will monitor the output of groups of panels over the Internet; PowerLight will dispatch technicians as needed for repairs and once a year for preventive maintenance.