Acciona Switches On 46 MW Portuguese Solar Plant

Spain’s Acciona has plugged its Portugal solar project into the grid, announcing this week that the new 46-megawatt plant can produce enough electricity to power over 30 million Portuguese homes.

One of Spain’s largest construction contractors, Acciona invested €261 million ($367 million) into the photovoltaic plant, which consists of 2,520 solar trackers supporting 262,080 photovoltaic modules. The trackers can follow the sun throughout the day, boosting the output of the solar modules over the output of a stationary system. The project covers 617.8 acres in Amareleja in the south of Portugal, just over the border from Spain.

Acciona said the plant was constructed in just 13 months, with the first 3 MW installed at the end of 2007 and connected to the grid in March of this year. The rest of the project was hooked up to the grid last week.

The company — which also has operations in wind, biomass, biofuel, environmental services, and water — already has 68 MW of photovoltaics up and running in Spain, with another 100 MW of concentrated solar power currently under construction.

In the U.S., Acciona owns the Nevada Solar One project, a 64 MW concentrated solar facility. Wells Fargo took an undisclosed stake in the €220 million Nevada project back in 2007, along with JPMorgan Capital and an affiliate of Northern Trust.

Most of the 68 MW installed in Spain by Acciona use the company’s “solar gardens” concept, in which a number of solar trackers and panels, ranging from 5-11 kilowatts each, are owned by different individuals but located on a common site. Acciona said that means infrastructures can be shared, reducing equipment costs and lowering operation and maintenance costs. The company said that so far, more than 3,500 owners have invested a total of €456 million in solar garden installations.

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