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Italy completes its largest solar PV facility

The 24 MW Montalto di Castro solar power plant has been completed as the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) facility in Italy, as the first phase of a planned 85-100 MW development that will be fully operational in 2010.

SunRay Renewable Energy and SunPower Corporation built the solar PV plant in the region of Lazio in Italy's Viterbro province, 100 km north of Rome, and it was connected to the grid in late November, several weeks ahead of schedule.

Construction of the solar PV plant was completed in 8 months by 250 workers and 10 local companies, and a dedicated 150 MW substation was constructed for the expansion.

A visitor centre is planned for the site, to provide education on solar power and other renewable energy sources. The project will employ 20 people for the next 25 years, and will provide additional commercial benefits for the local community, resulting in demand for local engineering and civil specialists as well as for landscape and farming experts and local restaurants.

“Completing construction of Italy's largest PV park several weeks ahead of schedule is a testament to the professionalism of the entire installation team,” says Yoram Amiga of SunRay Group.

“More than 200 local workers were trained in the skills of advanced PV technology, and they have surpassed our expectations and demonstrated creativity and resourcefulness in driving the project forward.”

The Montalto di Castro facility covers 80 hectare and uses 78,720 SunPower solar PV panels installed on SunPower trackers which yields 25% more output than fixed-tilt systems, while reducing land use requirements, say officials. Annual output will be 40 GWh.

“The Montalto di Castro project is an important milestone for our industry, confirming solar power plants are financeable today and make good business sense,” adds Howard Wenger of SunPower. “SunPower's technology is proven and can be rapidly deployed, and our industry-leading efficiency delivers competitively-priced energy.”

“In addition to delivering commercial benefits to the community, Montalto di Castro is designed to integrate seamlessly into the surrounding countryside and preserve the local ecosystem,” adds Giora Salita of SunRay. “SunPower's unrivaled global experience in the design and construction of solar power plants will help ensure that the finished project is the pride of the local community today and for many generations in the future.”

In October, SunRay borrowed €120 million through its subsidiary, Cassiopea PV, from Banca Infrastrutture Innovazione e Sviluppo, Société Générale and WestLB, and the banks provided Cassiopea with the hedging coverage against interest rates fluctuations. The project also involved the Italian credit insurer SACE.

If the Montalto solar PV facility expands to 100 MW in capacity, it would be one of the largest solar PV plants in the world, surpassing the 60 MW Olmedilla facility in Spain.

SunRay Renewable Energy is an independent solar power producer that has a strategic partnership with the private equity firm, Denham Capital, to develop 300 MW of solar projects by 2012. It is headquartered in Malta, with offices in Italy, Greece, France, Spain, Israel and the United Kingdom.

SunPower was founded in 1985 in California, and manufactures solar systems for residential, business, government and utility customers. It has offices in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia.

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar electricity

 

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