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25 September 2015

First Solar and skytron open EMEA operations center

First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA, which makes thin-film photovoltaic modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe) as well as providing engineering, procurement & construction (EPC) services, has announced the opening of a new Operations Center in Berlin, Germany, to be managed and operated by its Berlin-based subsidiary skytron energy GmbH (acquired in mid-2014). It is First Solar's third facility of its kind in the world, joining Operations Centers in Tempe, Arizona and Sydney, Australia.

Founded in 1977, skytron energy provides utility-scale PV monitoring, control and supervision systems to solar power plants. It supports more than 6000MW of utility-scale assets globally, through its advanced monitoring and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) solutions. skytron also supplies O&M services for First Solar in Europe.

The new Operations Center will provide remote monitoring, real-time supervision and plant control capabilities for photovoltaic (PV) energy assets located across the Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) region. It is manned by a specially trained team that will supervise the ongoing operation of power plants under management; tracking performance, detecting and diagnosing issues, and scheduling and advising on-site activities. The facility is also capable of energy forecasting and ensuring that power plants under management conform to grid requirements.

"Photovoltaic solar's emergence as a mainstream power generation resource, particularly in competitive markets, has made professional and focused operations and maintenance (O&M) more relevant than ever before," says Troy Lauterbach, First Solar's VP for global O&M. "PV plants are now recognized as high-value assets; their owners are focused on ensuring that they are optimized to reliably deliver the energy necessary to ensure profitable returns to investors," he adds. "First Solar, with its industry-leading fleet availability and track record of being able to enhance power plants to consistently deliver more energy than expected, is well placed to help plant owners meet, and exceed, their energy yield goals," he reckons.

First Solar is said to be the world's largest utility-scale solar O&M provider, managing a portfolio of over 4000MW of PV plants, each ranging from 2MWAC to 550MWAC in capacity. First Solar O&M has recorded an average fleet availability of greater than 99% in each of the last five years, compared with an industry average of 98%.

"The Berlin Operations Center is an important component of our service offering in one of the world's fastest-growing geographies. This investment reflects the significant demand we see for professional O&M services," says Stefan Degener, First Solar's senior director for O&M in the EMEA region. "We are now well equipped to support the needs of the established energy markets in Western Europe through skytron energy, with capabilities that span managing existing assets and new projects," he adds. "We are also looking to support the fast-growing emerging markets in the Middle East and in Africa, with technology driven solutions that will boost PV's competitiveness."

"Customers whose power plants are managed by this Operations Center will benefit from several gigawatts of combined First Solar and skytron energy experience, that spans all commercially viable PV technologies," says skytron energy's managing director J├Ârgen Klammer. "Equipped with the latest technology, this facility is capable of identifying and mitigating potential issues, real-time monitoring of plant performance and providing remote support when and where it is needed," he adds. "In an increasingly competitive energy marketplace, this Operations Center will be a critical part of our customers' efforts to optimize their PV power plants for performance and profitability."

Tags: First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic CdTe

Visit: www.firstsolar.com

Visit: www.skytron-energy.com

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