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US solar tech to build leading PV power plant in Brazil

SunEdison will use its modules and trackers for one of largest solar plants for BRIC country and construct 10kW model plant for Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte in agreement with Petrobras

The Brazilian PV plant will be located in Alto do Rodrigues, Rio Grande do Norte

US solar technology is being used to build what will be one of the biggest PV plants in Brazil. SunEdison, a leading global solar energy services provider, which has headquarters in California, and subsidiary of MEMC Electronic Materials, Inc, has signed an agreement with Brazilian energy firm Petrobras to build the 1,1MW DC MW solar photovoltaic power plant in the BRIC country.

The plant will be built with technology from SunEdison 3.672 Silvantis photovoltaic solar modules. The PV technology will be installed using A90 solar trackers designed by the company. Approximately, 50 people will work on the construction of the plant, which is expected to begin operations at the end of the year.

The plant will be located in Alto do Rodrigues, Rio Grande do Norte. Once completed, the SunEdison Renewable Operations Centre will manage the ongoing operations of the plant. The energy generated will be destined to the National Interconnected System (SIN).

The plant will have an installed capacity of 1,1MW DC MW and will be built on land adjacent to the Thermoeletric Plant Jesus Soares Pereira that belongs to Termoacu S.A, which major stakeholder is Petrobras. The plant is expected to generate 1,65GWh per year, avoiding carbon emission of 380 tonnes.

The construction of the plant is part of an initiative lead by Petrobras within the structure of the Research and Development Program of the Brazilian Electricity Regulatory Agency (ANEEL).

Model solar plant

The project includes the construction of a 10kW experimental platform, (a model plant) at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN) Department of Electrical Engineering's Laboratory of Power Electronics and Renewable Energy. It counts with partnership of the Centre for Gas Technology and Renewable Energy (CTGas-ER) located in Natal (RN).

The expansion of the network of laboratories will aid testing and certification of equipment, increase availability of public data on solar photovoltaic energy generation, as well as improve the quality of training of technical and higher-level professionals dedicated to the field.

Pancho Perez, SunEdison general manager for EMEA, Latin America and North Asia, said: "We are pleased to collaborate with Petrobras, the leading energy company in Brazil, in this ambitious R&D project from ANEEL that aims to facilitate solar energy development and PV industry growth in Brazil. This agreement is a demonstration of our commitment to the Brazilian market."

The news from SunEdison follows other US firms making major developments in Brazil's solar power sector last year. This includes US automotive firm General Motors, which announced in May 2012 it will build an engine plant to house Brazil's first solar energy system for the automotive industry.