GE unit doubles global solar power investments to $1.4B

Source: GE 

GE (NYSE: GE) unit GE Energy Financial Services announced it has more than doubled its global solar power investment commitments in the past year to $1.4 billion, for nearly $5 billion in projects. Its latest deal is a $100 million investment in a 127-megawatt project that will be built in Arizona. GE Energy Financial Services announced at the Infocast Solar Power Finance & Investment Summit in San Diego that its one-gigawatt portfolio spans 48 solar power plants – including 24 San Diego school rooftops -- in six countries: Australia, Canada, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the United States.

“We started last year with the goal of increasing our investments in solar power given improving solar technologies and decreasing costs, and have exceeded our own expectations by doubling our portfolio, investing in attractive projects across the globe,” said Alex Urquhart, president and CEO of GE Energy Financial Services.

Kevin Walsh, managing director and leader of power and renewable energy at GE Energy Financial Services, added that deploying capital at such large scale – for nearly $5 billion in projects -- has helped not only GE but the entire solar power industry grow. “We continue to seek to invest in the best solar power projects – with solid partners, power contracts and proven technology.”

GE Energy Financial Services’ 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 approximately 1,160 acres -- will provide enough clean, affordable energy to power approximately 53,000 California homes and displace 215,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year – equivalent to taking 38,000 cars off the road. When operational at the end of 2013, San Diego Gas & Electric – a unit of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE) -- 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 Corporation (NYSE: FLR) 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. (NYSE: PRU) -- 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-megawatt portfolio of solar PV farms in Canada, a 10-megawatt solar PV project in Australia, a 550-megawatt solar PV project in the United States, and a 20-megawatt 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.

Investments Support Broader GE Initiatives

These investments support ecomagination -- GE’s business strategy to create value for customers by solving energy, efficiency and water challenges. In addition, they complement solar power developments at GE Energy -- which is building the largest US solar panel factory, a 400-MW solar plant in Aurora, Colorado. GE is committed to scaling up advanced solar products and driving US solar technology leadership.



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