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PG&E builds solar farm

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), a Californian utility provider, revealed yesterday that it had signed two utility-scale, photovoltaic (PV) solar power contracts, allowing it to supply renewable energy to its customers.

PG&E entered into an agreement with Topaz Solar Farms LLC, a subsidiary of OptiSolar Inc., to provide it with 550 megawatts (MW) of thin-film PV solar power. It also signed a contract with High Plains Ranch II LLC, a subsidiary of SunPower Corporation, to provide it with 250 MW of high-efficiency PV solar power.

The deal will allow it to deliver cumulatively 1.65 billion kilowatt-hours of renewable energy annually, PG&E said. This is the equivalent to the amount of energy needed to serve approximately 239,000 residential homes each year.

“These landmark agreements signal the arrival of utility-scale PV solar power that may be cost-competitive with solar thermal and wind energy,” said Jack Keenan, chief operating officer and senior vice president for PG&E.

Utility-scale PV solar projects feature photovoltaic solar modules, which convert sunlight directly into electricity and produce the greatest amounts of power during the afternoons, when electricity demand is high. Both projects are contingent upon the extension of the federal investment tax credit for renewable energy and processes to expedite transmission needs.

Mr Keenan added: “We will continue to explore such innovative technologies as we aggressively work to increase the amount of renewable energy we provide our customers.”

Over the past six years PG&E has entered into contracts for more than 3,600 MW of renewable power, including solar contracts that total more than 2,500 MW. PG&E now has contractual commitments for more than 24 percent of its future power deliveries from renewables, including wind, biomass and geothermal.