General Electric Energy Financial Services is continuing its investment in solar energy development through a partnership involving unique technology on a project in Spain.
The Stamford, Conn., unit of Fairfield-based GE and German fund KGAL have jointly invested about $152.5 million in a 50-megawatt parabolic trough concentrated solar plant, which uses molten salt energy storage, in Badajoz, Spain.
GE Energy Financial Services and KGAL agreed to invest equity in Extresol II, developed by Spain-based ACS, Europe's largest maker of solar thermal power plants.
Financial details of the investment were not disclosed.
"This transaction complements our growing European renewables portfolio and brings with it a different technology -- concentrated solar power with salt storage -- working with strong local partners," said Andrew Marsden, a managing director and European leader at GE Energy Financial Services, in prepared comments.
The investment is GE Energy Financial Services' first in a concentrated solar power plant using molten salt storage.
Concentrated solar power plants use mirrors that reflect sunlight to heat a thermal fluid. The fluid is used to boil water to create steam and power turbines to generate electricity. Extresol II stores some solar heat by melting a special salt mixture during the day, then extracts the heat when the sun isn't shining, to continue producing steam.
Because salt is able to store heat for long periods, the facility can generate electricity an extra seven hours a day.
"The cost and efficiency of solar projects have improved," said Kevin Walsh, managing director of power and renewable energy at GE Energy Financial Services. "We've ramped up in the last few months."
In September, GE Energy Financial Services purchased a share of the 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight Solar Farm in California from First Solar Inc. It is set for completion by early 2015.
GE has made a strong commitment to solar energy research and production, said Steven Winoker, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Inc., referring to its plans to build a solar panel manufacturing plant in Colorado.
"They (GE) have the capability to be one of the world's largest panel solar providers," he said.
Jeffrey Immelt, GE chief executive officer, said last week that he expects GE's solar panel sales to top $1 billion a year by 2020.
But oil and gas remain the largest part of GE's energy portfolio, said Ben-Ari Elias, an analyst with Sterne Agee & Leach Inc., doubtful that solar power will be a major contributor.
"Solar is still a very small part of GE's energy business," he said. "It's a bit player."
Shares of GE declined 0.2 percent to $16.36 on Monday.
Most Popular Stories
- SEO Traffic Lab Celebrate Wins at Digital Marketing Event 'Internet World 2013' in London
- Social Media Initiatives Should Follow Customers' Lead
- Apple CEO: Offshore Units Not a 'Tax Gimmick'
- U.S. Senate Accuses Apple of Large-scale Tax Avoidance
- UTEP Water Recycling Project Wins Venture Titles
- Marketo Makes a Mint in IPO: Stock Shoots Up More than 50 Percent
- Bieber Booed at Billboard Awards
- Crude Oil Up, Gasoline Down
- Austin Startup Compare Metrics Raises $3.5 Million for Expansion
- Why So Many Top 'Car Guys' Are Actually Women