NTR set to announce solar energy partnership

NTR, the renewable energy and waste management group, is set to announce details of at least one new joint venture agreement, regarding its expansion into the southern European solar energy market, before the end of this year.

At the group’s recent full-year results announcement, management said that it was hopeful of entering the solar market in the Mediterranean region within the next two years, adding that strong interest had been shown regarding partnership deals from a number of players, particularly in Spain and Portugal.

Yesterday, Ian Simington, chief executive of NTR’s solar division, said that a strategic partner could be in place by the end of 2009, with an actual project up and running sometime in 2011.

Mr Simington was talking on the back of Tessera Solar North America – NTR’s solar project development subsidiary – announcing a partnership on a planned 1.5 megawatt project in Arizona with local body, Salt River Project called Maricopa Solar.

The power plant will be the first commercial facility to use the SunCatcher solar thermal technology pioneered by Tessera’s sister company, Stirling Energy Systems, which is also part of the NTR group.

Construction work on the Maricopa project will get under way at the beginning of next year.

This latest project will also act as a forerunner and major fundraiser for NTR/Tessera’s planned 300MW solar station near San Diego, which should be operational by 2011. The Maricopa solar plant will be run by Tessera under a 10-year agreement.

“This announcement is of high significance, as it represents another major step by Tessera Solar towards developing and operating utility-scale solar power plants, using Stirling Energy’s SunCatcher technology,” Mr Simington added.

NTR’s group results for the year to the end of March, which showed an operating loss of €76.4 million, needed to be viewed in the context of the scale of developmental work the group is currently undertaking, management said last month.

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