Australia's first utility scale solar plant performing above expectations
Posted 12 April 2016 4:00 AM by First Solar
Globally, most PV solar plants experience lower levels of performance and availability during the initial period of operation. This is typically due to equipment infant mortality and construction quality issues. However, the Greenough River Solar Farm, located 50km southeast of Geraldton in Western Australia, boasted an outstanding 99.6% effective availability in its first three years of operation.
A new white paper analyzing three years of data from the Greenough River Solar Farm (GRSF) provides insight into the impact of reliability and operations and maintenance (O&M) services on the effective availability of a solar plants during the early years of operation.
As Australia’s first operational utility-scale solar plant, the 10MW (AC) GRSF plant is the best source of long-term solar energy performance data in the country.
Operations and maintenance excellence
The GRSF white paper confirms the high level of performance achieved by the plant is thanks in part to outstanding O&M execution, provided by First Solar Energy Services. This high level of performance demonstrates not only the quality of the plant’s equipment and construction but also the effectiveness of First Solar’s operations and maintenance infrastructure and staff in preventing and promptly resolving issues to minimize any impact on energy production.
Frank Teofilo, First Solar’s Senior Director of O&M, explained that First Solar is now the leading O&M provider to utility-scale PV power plants in Australia with over 200MW under First Solar Energy Service supervision in Australia. “First Solar can provide O&M energy services to any developer or EPC provider in Australia. O&M plays a pivotal role in ensuring PV plants meet their full generation potential and First Solar is able to leverage experience from over 5GW of global and Australian projects to deliver bankable results.”
Photovoltaic Module Performance
The GRSF also continues to perform in-line with First Solar’s energy yield assessment, conducted in 2011. “The GRSF white paper is local proof that First Solar’s modules perform as modelled,” said Ewan Norton-Smith, First Solar’s Manager of Business Development for Australia. “Developers and investors increasingly recognize the long-term yield and reliability benefits of First Solar’s technology in Australia. For instance, in parts of Queensland, First Solar’s modules will produce up to 8% more energy than crystalline silicon modules. That means more watt hours per watt installed and directly translates to more competitive projects.”