First Solar, a global leader in photovoltaic (PV) solar energy solutions, will start shipping in the second quarter of this year the first consignment of its high performance photovoltaic (PV) modules for the 200 MW second phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, Dubai.
By the end of 2016, the company is scheduled to supply over 2.3 million of the thin film modules needed to power the facility.
The utility scale solar plant will be the largest facility of its kind in the Middle East, when completed in early 2017. The plant will produce enough energy to power 30,000 average homes in the UAE and will displace over 469,650 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. The project will be powered by over 2.36 million First Solar modules, compared with the 152,880 that were installed in the 13 MW AC first phase of the park.
First Solar’s advanced PV modules have set the industry benchmark with over 10 GW installed worldwide. Offering highly predictable energy in all climates and applications, the modules have been independently tested to pass accelerated life and stress tests beyond industry standards. With both, a superior temperature coefficient and superior spectral response, they have been independently certified for reliable performance in high temperature, high humidity, extreme desert and coastal environments.
“Based on its size and location, Phase I of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park is characterised as having established new standards for the development of utility-scale solar power plants in the Middle East,” said Dr Raed Bkayrat, First Solar’s vice-president of business development in the Middle East.
“It is also an excellent example of First Solar’s industry-leading EPC and technological capabilities,” he said.
“Since its completion, the solar park has been seamlessly integrated into Dubai’s electricity grid and its high performance attests to the suitability of First Solar’s thin film module technology to the region’s abrasive environmental conditions. In fact, the plant performance and power output has surpassed the guarantees we gave the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa). As aforementioned, this consistently reliable performance in actual hot, humid weather and high soiling conditions played a significant role in thin film being specified as the technology of choice for the plant.”
In Jordan an engineering, procurement and construction work is ongoing at Shams Ma’an and First Solar is scheduled to complete the facility in the third quarter of this year, as planned.
The company has a team of over 160 people onsite and, as of mid-January, had completed installing 50 per cent of the steel posts that serve as the foundation of the power plant. It expects to deliver all the modules to the site before the end of the second quarter of this year.
In Egypt the company is fully engaged as both, developer and technology provider to other successful developers such as Egypt’s solar energy Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) programme. The company has already been allocated a 50 MW project, which is subject to licensing and permitting. Additionally, there has been significant interest from other developers keen to leverage the company’s verified energy yield advantage in Egypt’s Benban region.
STRATEGY AND PLANS
“Broadly speaking, we follow a three-pronged strategy in the Middle East: in new and emerging markets, we are willing to take on the role of a one-stop-shop for solar energy, if that’s what’s needed to help get a national programme off the ground,” said Bkayrat.
“In instances like these we could take on the role of developer, EPC and module supplier, if it helps establish a local reference project that will set a strong precedent for the development of a robust solar energy market. Our involvement in the 52.5 MW Shams Ma’an project is an excellent example of this approach.
“In maturing markets where we have access to strong partners, experienced in development and EPC, we are happy to boost the competitiveness of their projects with our high performance PV module technology. A good example is the selection of our module technology to power the 200 MW second phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park.
“And finally, in a reflection of First Solar’s agility, we can also selectively draw on our capabilities as a vertically integrated company to enable a country’s solar energy programme. For instance, we can work with an experienced EPC company, which has never built a solar power plant before, to ensure that it has access to our extensive engineering expertise, in addition to supplying them with our technology.”
The strategy has helped the company attain a lead position in the Middle East market with a projected installed capacity of at least 270 MW by the start of 2017.
First Solar modules are currently being produced at its manufacturing plants located in Kulim, Malaysia and Ohio, USA.
“While I cannot comment on our plans for the future, I can say that any decision on expanding our global manufacturing footprint will need to be driven by tangible demand, among other important factors,” said Bkayrat.