Solar Frontier trumpets module performance in MENA installation

Saudi Aramco commissioned Solar Frontier to supply modules for a 10.5 MW solar car park installation, at its Al-Midra Tower facility in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and is now releasing production data from the site. The installation was completed in December 2012 and has produced 8.498 MWh in its first six months of operation.

Solar Frontier made public the six-month output figure late last month, noting that it exceeds predicted output. "This result is a milestone that adjusts upward our performance expectation for Solar Frontier CIS panels in Saudi Arabia," said Atsuhiko Hirano, Senior Vice President of Solar Frontier, in a statement.

The Japanese firm refers to its thin film modules as CIS, despite the existence of gallium in its semiconductor stack. Solar Frontier is one of the two "pillars" maintaining thin film technology’s place in the global PV market, alongside First Solar. It has a production capacity of around 900 MW and is running close to full utilization.

In a response to pv magazine‘s request for more details as to the installation’s performance, Solar Frontier has attributed the strong output figures as being due to its CIS modules’ superior temperature coefficient. "CIS modules have a lower temperature coefficient than standard crystalline technologies; as a result, they are more resistant to heat degradation and deliver up to 5% more power than standard crystalline modules at 75C (167F) module temperatures," the statement reads.

Solar Frontier claims the Al Midra installation is "by far" the largest "of its kind" in the region. The modules cover 4,450 car parking spaces, with it producing all of the building’s daytime power needs.

In the harsh MENA conditions, Solar Frontier has told pv magazine that the car park installation is periodically cleaned. "Cleaning regimes are especially critical in the dusty, sand-blown conditions of many areas of the Middle East. Various cleaning methods and tools are now being investigated at the Al Midra site and we hope to say more when data from cleaning operations is more extensive."