First Solar & skytron energy enhance PV plant performance with EMEA operations centre

21st September 2015
Posted By : Siobhan O'Gorman

First Solar and its subsidiary, skytron energy have announced the opening of a new operations centre in Berlin. First Solar’s third facility of its kind in the world, the centre will be managed and operated by skytron energy.

The operations centre will provide industry-leading remote monitoring, real-time supervision and plant control capabilities for PhotoVoltaic (PV) energy assets located across the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. It is manned by a specially trained team that will supervise the ongoing operation of power plants under management; tracking performance, detecting and diagnosing issues, and scheduling and advising on-site activities. The facility is also capable of energy forecasting and ensuring that power plants under management conform to grid requirements. First Solar currently operates two operations centres located in Tempe, Arizona and Sydney, Australia. 

“PV solar’s emergence as a mainstream power generation resource, particularly in competitive markets, has made professional and focused Operations and Maintenance (O&M) more relevant than ever before. PV plants are now recognised as high value assets and their owners are focused on ensuring that they are optimised to reliably deliver the energy necessary to ensure profitable returns to investors,” said Troy Lauterbach, Vice President for Global O&M, First Solar. “First Solar, with its industry-leading fleet availability and track record of being able to enhance power plants to consistently deliver more energy than expected, is well placed to help plant owners meet, and exceed, their energy yield goals.”

First Solar is currently the largest utility-scale solar O&M provider in the world, managing a portfolio of over 4,000MW of PV plants, each ranging from 2MWAC to 550MWAC in capacity. First Solar O&M has recorded an average fleet availability of greater than 99% in each of the last five years, compared to an industry average of 98%.

“The Berlin operations centre is an important component of our service offering in one of the world’s fastest growing geographies. This investment reflects the significant demand we see for professional O&M services and is among a number of differentiators that give us a competitive edge,” said Stefan Degener, Senior Director for O&M in the EMEA region, First Solar. “We’re now well equipped to support the needs of the established energy markets in Western Europe through skytron energy, with capabilities that span managing existing assets and new projects. We’re also looking to support the fast-growing emerging markets in the Middle East and in Africa, with technology driven solutions that will boost PV’s competitiveness.”

The operations centre will be managed and staffed by skytron energy, which was acquired by First Solar in 2014. Founded in 1977, skytron energy provides utility-scale PV monitoring, control and supervision systems to solar power plants. It supports more than 6,000MW of utility scale assets globally, through its advanced monitoring and SCADA solutions. skytron energy also supplies O&M services for First Solar in Europe.

“Customers whose power plants are managed by this operations centre will benefit from over 10,000MW of combined First Solar and skytron energy experience, that spans all commercially viable PV technologies,” said Jörgen Klammer, Managing Director, skytron energy. “Equipped with the latest state-of-the-art technology, this facility is capable of identifying and mitigating potential issues, real-time monitoring of plant performance and providing remote support when it is needed and where it is needed. In an increasingly competitive energy marketplace, this operations centre will be a critical part of our customers’ efforts to optimise their PV power plants for performance and profitability.”

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