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World's Largest Single-Axis Solar PV Plant Goes Live in Southern California


Last week, Spanish sustainable energy multinational Abengoa gained environmental approval in Chile to build what is expected to be the world's first utility-scale concentrating solar power plant (CSP) capable of supplying electricity to the grid 24/7. Following up on this success, the company announced yesterday that it has completed construction of the world's largest single-axis solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in California.

Built for project owner Silver Ridge Power, one of the largest PV plant operators in the world, the 206-megawatt (MW) Mount Signal Solar PV facility in the southeastern California city of Calexico spans 801 hectares (~1,980 acres). More than 3 million PV modules have been installed on-site, each rotating on a north-south axis as they track the sun's path--enabling Mount Signal Solar to supply clean, renewable electricity to 72,000 in households in the San Diego area.

Harnessing solar energy rather than burning fossil fuels to produce electricity, Mount Signal Solar will prevent some 356,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from entering the atmosphere each year, Abengoa explains in a press release.

Mount Signal Solar: Clean, renewable energy for San Diego

In addition to the clean, renewable energy and avoided CO2 emissions resulting from the Mount Signal Solar PV facility, Abengoa worked with a variety of local businesses in the region. More than 700 direct jobs were created in building Mount Signal Solar, which was completed in a record 16 months. Most, Abengoa highlights, were filled by local residents.

The U.S. solar and sustainable energy market now represents 28 percent of Abengoa's overall business, management notes. In early October 2013, Abengoa Solar announced it had completed construction of the massive 280-MW Solana CSP plant in Arizona.

Besides being the largest CSP plant to employ parabolic solar troughs to generate renewable electricity, Solana's molten-salts thermal energy storage system is capable of storing around six hours' worth of energy production--enabling it to deliver electricity night and day.

Abengoa's yieldco & growing U.S. presence

Raising its profile among U.S. clean energy investors, Abengoa is among a growing number of energy companies to raise capital by spinning off some of its solar, wind and clean energy assets and selling shares in a yield-company, or “yieldco,” to the public.

Joining the likes of NRG, which raised $431 million in its NRG Yield Inc. IPO last July, Abengoa on April 1 filed an amendment to its SEC registration statement seeking approval for an initial public offering (IPO) of shares in Abengoa Yield Plc on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

Abengoa is looking to raise as much as $600 million of capital through the yieldco IPO, which management anticipates will be “its main vehicle for owning, managing and acquiring renewable energy projects, conventional power plants and transmission lines,” according to a Bloomberg News report.

*Image credits: 1) & 2) Abengoa, Mount Signal Solar; 3) Findata

Andrew Burger headshotAndrew Burger

An experienced, independent journalist, editor and researcher, Andrew has crisscrossed the globe while reporting on sustainability, corporate social responsibility, social and environmental entrepreneurship, renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean technology. He studied geology at CU, Boulder, has an MBA in finance from Pace University, and completed a certificate program in international governance for biodiversity at UN University in Japan.

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