Geraldton, Western Australia, April 12, 2012 - Australia's largest solar photovoltaic (PV) power project reached a major construction milestone today as contractor and technology provider, First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR), joined owners Verve Energy and GE (NYSE: GE) unit GE Energy Financial Services to mark the commencement of panel installation at the Greenough River Solar Farm. WA Energy Minister, Peter Collier, landholders, members of the Geraldton community and local contractors were present to help celebrate this achievement.
"The demonstration of this proven technology in WA on a commercial scale should encourage the development of larger projects and reduce renewable energy costs in the medium to long term," the Minister said.
Construction of the 10-megawatt solar farm 50km south of Geraldton began just four months ago. With above-ground electrical work completed and structural supports now installed, the next phase of construction will see local workers install approximately 150,000 First Solar PV modules. Scheduled for completion in mid-2012, the project is expected to create almost 100 jobs.
"The successful delivery of the Greenough River Solar Farm will help kick-off a long-term, sustainable market for utility-scale solar in Australia. First Solar has a strong record of successful project delivery, enhanced by working with local communities to ensure projects make a meaningful and lasting contribution," said Jack Curtis, Vice President - Business Development & Sales, First Solar.
"When in operation, First Solar's panels produce electricity with no water use, no waste production and no CO2 emissions," Mr. Curtis added.
"GE Energy Financial Services sees Australia as a key growth market that will continue to need capital to fuel its expanding renewable energy industry. We hope this is the first of many such milestones in the country," said Jason Willoughby, GE Energy Financial Services' Australia business leader. "With our strong partners, Verve Energy and First Solar, we are pleased to help make this landmark solar project a reality."
"The Greenough River Solar Farm is providing valuable experience for Verve Energy in the development of solar energy in WA," said Tony Narvaez, General Manager, Strategy & Business Development, Verve Energy. "This experience will be very useful when Verve Energy pursues its aim to develop other solar farm projects in the near future."
Western Australian state-owned power utility Verve Energy and GE Energy Financial Services each own 50 percent of the Greenough River Solar Farm, with the WA Government having provided A$20 million in funding, including A$10 million from the WA Royalties for Regions program. No debt has been raised to fund the project. First Solar is supplying its advanced thin film PV modules and engineering, procurement and construction services, in addition to operations and maintenance support once the solar farm is operational.
The WA Water Corporation, which is building the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant near Binningup, has committed to purchasing 100 percent of the solar farm's output.
About First Solar
First Solar manufactures solar modules with an advanced semiconductor technology and provides comprehensive photovoltaic (PV) system solutions. The company is delivering an economically viable alternative to fossil-fuel generation today. From raw material sourcing through end-of-life collection and recycling, First Solar is focused on creating cost-effective, renewable energy solutions that protect and enhance the environment. For more information about First Solar, please visit http://www.firstsolar.com
For First Solar Investors
This release contains forward-looking statements which are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The forward-looking statements in this release do not constitute guarantees of future performance. Those statements involve a number of factors that could cause actual results to differ materially, including risks associated with the company's business involving the company's products, their development and distribution, economic and competitive factors and the company's key strategic relationships and other risks detailed in the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. First Solar assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking information contained in this press release or with respect to the announcements described herein.
About Verve Energy
Verve Energy is the leading generator or electricity in Western Australia. Verve Energy owns and operates an extensive and diverse portfolio of power stations and renewable energy systems with a total capacity of 2967 MW. For more information, please visit www.verveenergy.com.au
About GE Energy Financial Services
GE Energy Financial Services' experts invest globally across the capital spectrum in essential, long-lived, and capital-intensive energy assets that meet the world's energy needs. In addition to capital, GE Energy Financial Services offers the best of GE.'s technical know-how, technology innovation, financial strength, and rigorous risk management. Based in Stamford, Connecticut, the GE business unit helps its customers and GE grow through new investments, strong partnerships, and optimization of its approximately US$20 billion in assets. For more information, visit http://www.geenergyfinancialservices.com
GE (NYSE: GE) works on things that matter. The best people and the best technologies taking on the toughest challenges. Finding solutions in energy, health and home, transportation and finance. Building, powering, moving and curing the world. Not just imagining. Doing. GE works. For more information, visit the company's website at www.ge.com.
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