February 29, 2012 — GE Energy Financial Services has more than doubled its global solar power investment commitments in the past year to $1.4 billion, for nearly $5 billion in projects. GE's latest deal is a $100 million investment in a 127 MW project that will be built in Arizona.
GE's one-gigawatt portfolio spans 48 solar power plants — including 24 San Diego school rooftops — in six countries: Australia, Canada, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the U.S.
GE's latest investment is in LS Power's $550 million Arlington Valley Solar Energy II project, a crystalline silicon photovoltaic solar farm whose construction is expected to begin next month near Arlington, Arizona, 40 miles west of Phoenix in Maricopa County.
Converting sunlight into electricity, the solar power project — located on about 1,160 acres — will provide enough clean, affordable energy to power about 53,000 California homes and displace 215,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
When operational at the end of 2013, San Diego Gas & Electric — a unit of Sempra Energy — will buy the power from the plant, which also will help California meet its target of generating 33 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Fluor Corp. designed, is building and will operate and maintain the solar farm.
In addition to GE Energy Financial Services' equity investment, Prudential Capital Group — an investment business of Prudential Financial, Inc. — Banco Santander S.A., and other commercial banks and institutional investors provided debt financing for the project.
2011 was a record year for GE Energy Financial Services' global solar power investing. It agreed to invest in a 50 MW portfolio of solar PV farms in Canada, a 10 MW solar PV project in Australia, a 550 MW solar PV project in the U.S., and a 20 MW solar PV power plant atop a greenhouse in Italy.
In addition to these and other direct investments in solar projects, GE Energy Financial Services has made venture investments in solar energy technology companies, as well as in the Spain-based solar project developer and operator FRV. Overall, the GE unit has made more than $8 billion in renewable energy commitments globally, including solar, wind, biomass, hydro and geothermal power assets.