206MW Mount Signal reaches finish

An aerial shot of the Mount Signal spread taken in early March 2014.

An aerial shot of the Mount Signal spread taken in early March 2014.

Construction has wrapped up at Silver Ridge Power’s 206MW Mount Signal Solar array in Calexico, California, bringing to an end a multi-year development and construction process which saw the project flip from Stirling Dish CSP technology to PV.

Initially known as Imperial Valley Solar 1, Mount Signal was part of a 700+MW proposed series of projects on federal land owned by now-bankrupt developer Tessera, which was ultimately brought to its knees (alongside sister company Stirling Energy Systems) by financial and legal challenges.

AES Solar – a solar-energy joint venture owned by power giant AES and the private-equity firm Riverstone Holdings – acquired the projects in 2011, and brought on co-developer 8minutenergy.

AES Solar has since been renamed Silver Ridge Power.

In 2012, Spain’s Abengoa won an EPC contract worth $365m to build Mount Signal, which uses more than 7 million PV modules attached to trackers following a north-south axis, and employed more than 700 workers in California's Imperial Valley at peak construction.

The deal further consolidated Abengoa’s strong presence in the booming US utility-scale solar business, having won major EPC work on both the PV and CSP side.

Mount Signal is the world's largest PV plant to use single-axis trackers, and among the largest in the world, full stop.

Electricity produced at Mount Signal is sold to San Diego Gas & Electric Company. Google invested $103m in the project late last year.

With Mount Signal on line, Silver Ridge, based like co-parent AES Corp. in Arlington, Virginia, owns more than 520MW of operational utility-scale PV capacity – with one of the world’s most geographically diversified portfolios, spanning the US, Puerto Rico, Europe and India.

AES Corp. is among the largest US-based power generators, with 29GW of installed capacity around the world – nearly one-third of it renewables. Among the wind farms owned by AES is Buffalo Gap phases 1-3, in west central Texas, which tips the scales at 524MW.


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