E.ON has announced the start of construction on its 20 MW Maricopa West solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in California, in the US. The plant is scheduled to come online by the end of this year.

The project follows the firm’s completion of a 2.1 MW PV plant in Neverin near Neubrandenburg, Germany.

E.ON aims to become a significant player in the renewable power sector after spinning off its fossil fuel-fired generation assets. The firm’s solar power projects are executed under what it calls a flexible business model, wherein a completed project can be owned and operated by E.ON or a third party.

The company is focusing initially on expanding its solar PV business in the US and Germany, and says “further [solar] parks across Germany have been planned or already completed”. E.ON adds that it has been “successfully bidding” in tenders for ground-mounted PV systems issued by Germany’s Federal Network Agency.

In May, E.ON announced that it would partner with US-based control software firm Sungevity to develop pilot PV projects around Munich and Berlin. And, in an August interview with solar sector publication PV Magazine, E.ON Germany’s head of energy solutions, Franco Gola, said the firm plans to offer a new plant check service for operators of the country’s over 1.5 million PV plants, beginning this month.

Gola told PV Magazine that his firm sees “huge potential” in the plant check service given that a July report from TÜV Rheinland showed that “every third [solar] installation shows some form of defect or capacity deficit. With more than 50 per cent of these, installation errors were the cause, and with another 25 per cent planning and documentation errors.”

The new service will “calculate quickly and reliably if the system capacity is being fully utilized or whether more electricity can be generated than currently,” he continued. “Then there is also the possibility of a more detailed on-site audit of the facility, and also the detection of defects with regards to maintenance and repair.”