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
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.