First Solar starts work on Texas plant

First Solar has started construction on its 22MW (AC) Barilla array in West Texas, in what will become another important reference project for PV in the Lone Star state.

The Barilla project, located near Fort Stockton, is slated for completion by mid-2014, and will help take the edge off the peak demand spikes experienced in the region.

First Solar will build, own and operate the plant with the intention of selling power to municipal utilities as well as commercial and industrial users, although it remains open to selling Barilla to a long-term owner.

Barilla “demonstrates First Solar’s capability to rapidly develop, construct and commission a solar project … at competitive rates to the market when and where it is required”, says Tim Rebhorn, senior vice president for business development.

Despite benefiting from excellent solar resources, a strong local wind sector, and the second largest population among US states, Texas is not currently among the 10 largest statewide PV markets in the US.

However, there are signs that the Texas solar sector is beginning to take off. Among the key projects underway in the state is the 400MW package that Korea’s OCI and its partners are building for San Antonio’s municipal utility.

“We are not resting on our legacy of leadership in oil and gas,” says Joe Shuster, judge for Pescos County, where the Barilla project is building built. “This is an important step forward in our efforts to establish West Texas as a centre for renewable energy.”