First Solar, Inc. recently announced that HopSol AG, a Swiss solar developer, has selected its high performance thin film modules to power the Otjozondjupa Solar Park, which is located near Grootfontein, Namibia. When completed in June 2016, the 5 megawatt (MW)AC facility will be Namibia’s largest grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) plant and is expected to account for approximately one percent of the country’s total generation capacity.
The utility-scale project is being developed by HopSol Africa, a subsidiary of the Zurich-headquartered company. Powered by over 52,000 First Solar modules, the power plant will supply almost 14,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity per year, to the state-owned utility company, NamPower.
“Our decision to select First Solar’s thin film modules was primarily driven by the operating conditions in the area. We needed a reliable module technology that would thrive in the hot temperatures that are common in the summer months and also deliver energy in cloudy, low-light conditions. In fact, by our estimates, thin film modules deliver up to 10% percent more energy in Namibia than conventional silicon PV panels,” said Dr. Robert Hopperdietzel, Chairman, HopSol AG. “First Solar has a proven track record in delivering an energy yield advantage in challenging environmental conditions and there is no doubt that its thin film modules are the right choice for southern Africa.”
The facility will utilize single-axis tracking technology to maximize energy yield by up to 25% percent and will generate enough energy to power approximately 3,700 average households in Namibia. The country has a total generation capacity of approximately 430MW and imports over half of its power from the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP). By generating clean energy from sunlight, the project will displace the need for the equivalent of 300,000 liters of gasoline per year – sufficient for a car to drive the 1691-kilometer length of the Namibia’s B1 highway, over 3,400 times.
Significantly, the project will displace an estimated 19,000 metrics tons of water per year since PV solar requires no water for power generation and, on a lifecycle basis, consumes less water than most other conventional and renewable generation technologies in the production process. With the smallest carbon footprint, lowest life cycle water use, and fastest energy payback time in the industry, First Solar’s thin-film PV modules provide a sustainable solution to climate change, water scarcity, and energy security.
“The Otjozondjupa Solar Park exemplifies Namibia’s ambitions of energy security and demonstrates the role that cost competitive solar can play in an independent power production ecosystem,” said Nasim Khan, Vice President for Africa, at First Solar. “As Namibia continues to shore up its generation capacity by adding renewables to its portfolio, HopSol’s project will, no doubt, stand out as a singular example of the sustainable development of solar energy in the country.”
With over 10,000MW installed worldwide, First Solar is a global leader in providing comprehensive PV solar systems powered by its advanced thin film modules. The company’s global footprint includes two manufacturing facilities in the United States and Malaysia. Its regional headquarters for Africa are located in Cape Town, South Africa.