GE Energy Financial Services, PowerLight Corp. and Catavento Lda broke ground on June 6, 2006, on one of the world's largest solar photovoltaic power plants. The 11-MW solar power plant, comprising 52,000 photovoltaic modules, is under construction in Serpa, Portugal.

GE Energy Financial Services is financing and will own the facility in a US$75 million transaction. PowerLight designed and will operate and maintain the power plant, which will employ 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 underway. 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.

With no fuel cost or emissions, the Serpa solar installation will produce electricity sufficient to power 8000 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 on-line.

“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.”

PowerLight's PowerTracker system follows the sun as it moves across the sky throughout the day, generating more electricity than conventional fixed-mount systems.