Four Megawatts of Solar Power to Grace Southern Italy

November 19, 2009 Updated: November 19, 2009

Solar power counts a lot of proponents, but until recently it has not become a major source of energy due to its higher cost over fossil fuel-generated electricity.

But governmental subsidies and increased venture capital support has brought a flurry of new solar farms and solar power plants to regions around the world.

San José-based SunPower Corp. and Canada-based Etrion Corporation on Thursday teamed up on a project to build four one megawatt solar power plants in the southern Italian region of Puglia, the companies said.

SunPower will design, build, and maintain the plants. It plans to start the first power plant later this month, with completion of the first plant targeted for the end of 2010.

"Solar power generation will play an increasingly vital role in our efforts to build more renewable, clean energy sources,” Etrion CEO Marco Northland said in a statement. “SunPower's experienced approach to solar power plant design and construction will allow us to quickly and reliably complete these important projects."

The solar panels will have the ability to track the movement of the sun, which can provide up to 25 percent more energy than traditional fixed-tilt panels, the company said.

Centrobanca, an Italian bank, is providing 83 percent of the financing for the project.