San Jose-based SunPower already claimed construction of the largest photovoltaic solar power plant in North America—a 14-megawatt installation at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. But today, the company announced its was shooting higher. SunPower plans to design and build a 25-megawatt power plant east of Sarasota, Fla., in DeSoto County—to be completed next year—and a smaller 10-megawatt plant at the Kennedy Space Center, which would be finished in 2010.
Florida Power & Light Co., a subsidiary of FPL Group, announced the projects last month without naming a builder. The power company said today that it chose SunPower because of its "proven experience" building photovoltaic plants.
The photovoltaic sites—along with a planned solar thermal plant, which uses a different technology to harness the sun's energy to produce heat, and would not be built by SunPower—speak to the country's growing interest in renewable energy. Most electricity in the United States is generated by fossil fuels—coal and natural gas—which are nonrenewable and produce greenhouse gases.
SunPower's stock shot up more than 10 percent to $67.74 on the news. The dramatic lift comes with the territory—solar stocks have been a remarkably volatile sector of the market. It's a nice rebound, however, after last week's announcement that Spain would cut down on solar subsidies, which resulted in a sell-off in solar stocks.