11 September 2012

Agua Caliente achieves 250 megawatts of grid-connected PV power

First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA, which manufactures thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe) as well as providing engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services, says that the Agua Caliente solar project has achieved a peak generating capacity of 250 megawatts (MW) AC connected to the electrical grid. The project, under construction in Yuma County, AZ, USA, is currently the world's largest operating PV power plant, says the firm. When completed, it will have a generating capacity of 290 MWAC.

Construction began at the Agua Caliente site in the fall of 2010, and installation of First Solar’s PV modules began in June, 2011. First Solar is constructing the project using its advanced thin-film PV modules and will operate and maintain the facility for owners NRG Energy and MidAmerican Solar. Pacific Gas and Electric Company has a 25-year power purchase agreement for the project's electrical output, which is projected to displace approximately 5.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide over 25 years, the equivalent of taking more than 40,000 cars off the road annually.

In January 2012, the project became commercially operational, generating 30 MW of clean electricity for the grid. It surpassed 100 MW of grid-connected power this spring and 200 MW this summer. Construction is expected to be completed on schedule in 2014.

The project has met all of its contractual milestones to date and exceeded targets for the speed, quality and safety of the construction process. As a result, First Solar says it has slowed the construction schedule in line with future contractual milestones and the scheduled completion date. These adjustments have provided First Solar with increased flexibility to allocate its solar module supply to better serve increased demand in the second half of 2012 across its portfolio of projects.

"The Agua Caliente project exemplifies how utility-grade solar PV power can be rapidly deployed in a phased approach and seamlessly integrated into the electrical grid," said Jim Tyler, vice president of Development Engineering in First Solar's Engineering, Procurement and Construction Group. "We are extremely proud to set a new benchmark for the industry with Agua Caliente, which incorporates the knowledge gained over years of experience designing, building and operating utility-scale solar projects for leading utilities and energy providers."

Tags: First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic CdTe Agua Caliente

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