When one of the largest companies in the world is doubling down on investments in a specific technology or industry, you know there’s movement afoot. GE, the 6th largest U.S. company and the 14th most profitable in 2011, announced yesterday that it had doubled its solar energy investments in the past year. It invested $1.4 billion, for nearly $5 billion in projects, in that time.
GE’s latest solar investment was in the (super large) 127-MW solar PV farm in Arlington, Arizona called the Arlington Valley Solar Energy II Project (“AV Solar”). (Yes, I just mentioned that project in a solar and wind project roundup.) GE is investing $100 million of the $550 million going into this project.
GE’s portfolio of over 1 GW (1,000 MW) of solar power projects now spans 48 projects in six countries (Australia, Canada, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the United States).
This shows that solar is not only viable to the corporate giant, but it is viable around the world. As noted several, several times here on CleanTechnica, for companies or individuals with the capital to spare, solar is now a very safe investment option with a very competitive estimated return on investment (ROI).
“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.
Of course, GE’s massive investments in solar also make a difference for the solar industry as a whole. Simply put, it couldn’t grow as fast or as large as it is without these investments.
While many of us may prefer to support smaller businesses and see them succeed, large corporate leaders like GE play a central role in the global economy and in many an industry. Whether it is just for financial reasons or not, GE’s involvement in the solar industry is a win for the industry and for all those who look forward to seeing solar grow to a humongous scale (as we all now is capable now).
Arlington Valley Solar Energy II Project
In case you didn’t check out the story linked above, here are some more details on the new Arizona solar project GE’s just invested in:
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.
GE’s 2011 Investments
And, if you’re curious about GE’s other recent solar investments, here’s a summary of its 2011 activity from the company:
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.
Of course, being a corporate giant and a top player in this field, GE is investing in all sorts of energy—nuclear, natural gas, wind, and solar. Nonetheless, that doesn’t make its solar investments any less important.
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GE logo via General Electric on Wikimedia Commons
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