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SunEdison Renewable Energy (SRE) has built a photovoltaic plant in Rovigo, Veneto, in north-east Italy. The plant is operated by SunEdison Italy, a division of MEMC Electronic Materials.
The 70MW plant is one of the largest of its kind in Europe. Construction of the plant began in March 2010 after the Italian Government gave its final approval. The facility became fully operational in November 2010.
The solar power plant is estimated to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the region by 41,000t per year, which is equivalent to taking 8,000 cars off the roads.
The SunEdison plant is one of Italy’s largest installations and produces enough energy to light 17,150 homes.
The plant was established and co-owned by SunEdison and Spanish equity firm Banco Santander.
In October 2010, SunEdison sold the plant to First Reserve for €276m ($382m). First Reserve owns the plant through a joint venture between First Reserve Energy and SunEdison in which the later is the minority stakeholder. Investors in the First Reserve joint venture are Perennius Capital Partners and Partners Group.
First Reserve made an initial payment of €46m in May 2010 for a stake in the plant. The remaining payment was made after the plant was interconnected in the fourth quarter of 2010. SunEdison will continue to operate and maintain the plant.
Financing the SunEdison Photovoltaic Power Plant
Various overseas and Italian banks were approached to finance the SunEdison Photovoltaic Power Plant, which cost €276m ($382m).
Banco Santander financed the installation of the plant.
Unicredit Corporate Banking, Dexia Crediop, Natixis, Societe Generale and Credit Agricole were the other financial partners.
SunEdison plant development
The SunEdison Photovoltaic Power Plant was designed and built by large-scale infrastructure construction company Isolux Corsan, which signed a partnership agreement with SunEdison in March 2010 to design, develop, operate and maintain services at the photovoltaic plant.
As of August 2010, installations for the support structures were completed. One transformation centre and inverter cabin were also constructed.
The SunEdison Photovoltaic Power Plant is being built on an 850,000m² site. Power is generated using 280,000 flat solar panels and 58 steel poles.
The plant, which created approximately 500 construction jobs for local people, has 60 transformation centres and inverter cabins.
A high voltage substation was built in partnership with Italian grid operator Terna.
Local environmental impact
SRE took measures to mitigate the impact of the plant on the local environment. Isolux claims to have followed a fully unified approach during its design to avoid adverse environmental effects on the landscape and natural habitats.
The company replanted trees, enhanced vegetation and undertook agricultural and farming activities.
Italy’s power market
Italy was third in the European photovoltaic market after implementing 711MW of photovoltaic installations in 2009. By 2010, the country had approximately 150,000 photovoltaic installations and a total capacity of 3,000MW.
The market for photovoltaic power production industry in Italy is doubling every two years.
The newly installed photovoltaic capacity of Italy was 1,850MW in 2010. About 3,000MW will be installed between 2011 and 2013.
The country aims to achieve 8,000MW solar capacity by 2020. Italy’s installed solar capacity is expected to surpass that of the US in a few years.
The Mediterranean Solar Plan, which was unveiled in 2008, aims to generate 20GW of new renewable energy by 2020 in the region. The developments will include generation of power by PV (3–4GW) by concentrated solar power (10–12GW) and by wind (5–6GW).
In addition to the Rovigo project, SunEdison is developing 12 1MW solar plants in Lecce, Apulia. In April 2010, the company signed a deal with German bank Norddeutsche Landesbank under which the bank will support the project with €47m. The Enel and Sharp joint venture is developing solar farms in southern Italy with a planned total capacity of 189MW for 2012.
Other large solar power plants in the European region include a 60MW solar farm in Olmedilla, Spain, and a 50MW plant in Strasskirchen, Germany.
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