First Solar nails 53MW Jordan PPA

First Solar has unveiled a 20-year power purchase agreement for a 52.5MWac PV plant in Jordan, continuing its charge into emerging solar markets.

In addition to supplying its Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) thin-film modules, First Solar will provide EPC and O&M services to the project, which is part of Jordan’s Ma’an Development Area initiative – an industrial cluster being established in southern Jordan.

The PPA was signed between Jordan’s National Electric Power Company and Shams Ma’an Power Generation, in which First Solar’s Germany-based subsidiary is a shareholder.

The array will be “a regional benchmark for the independent production of power”, says Shams Ma’an chief executive Hanna Zaghloul, and will account for roughly 1% of Jordan's total electricity generation capacity.

Although First Solar bounced back to profitability in 2013 – and chalked up one of the largest profits in the industry – a number of analysts are concerned about the company’s mid-term prospects as the US market shifts from utility-scale projects in the desert southwest to residential rooftops, where crystalline-silicon (c-Si) rivals have an edge.

In response, First Solar last year acquired TetraSun, a start-up focused on high-efficiency c-Si, and it has aggressively pursued work for its vertically integrated CdTe business in emerging and newly important PV markets around the world – from Latin America to India to Japan.

Earlier this week First Solar announced the completion of its first utility-scale project in Japan; it recently kicked off construction at the 102MWac Nyngan array, which will become Australia’s largest; and it recently completed a 13MW array in Dubai – underscoring its sweeping ambitions for the Middle East in particular.

Jordan, a country of 6 million people which is highly dependent on gas imports from Egypt, is becoming something of a beachhead for wind and solar energy in the Middle East.

In recent months Germany’s Phoenix Solar won the EPC contract for the country’s first megawatt-scale PV project (with supply orders going to Trina Solar and SMA Solar), while Vestas confirmed a 117MW turbine order for the first utility-scale wind farm.