First Solar signs 63 MW module supply agreement in Australia, also partners with Zorlu Holding

Emerging solar markets have GWs on their mind.

U.S. vertically integrated solar power company First Solar has this week signed two strategic deals that have augmented the firm’s global module supply exposure.

The first is an agreement to deliver 63 MWac of First Solar thin-film PV modules to the Kidston Solar Project in Australia. The supply deal was signed with Genex Power, which is seeking to integrate the solar plant with a pumped hydro storage system.

The Kidston Solar Project is located in the far-north of Queensland and will require more than 540,000 of First Solar’s thin-film modules, which were chosen for their efficacy in hot and humid conditions. Prior to the agreement, First Solar’s exposure in the Australian solar market was already strong, with the firm’s thin-film technology the go-to module of choice for large-scale PV in Australia.

“The combination of solar energy with pumped storage hydro will allow for increasing penetration of renewable energy into the grid and will contribute to the stability of supply in the National Electricity Market,” said First Solar’s senior manager for business development in Australia, Ewan Norton-Smith.

Genex Power MD Michael Addison added: “The combination of First Solar’s thin-film modules, single-axis tracking technology and the excellent local solar resource in Queensland will give our project the highest chance of achieving a record solar capacity factor in Australia.”

A power purchase agreement (PPA) is already in place between the developer and the Queensland Government. Phase One of the Kidston Solar Project has been boosted by AUS$8.9 million in commonwealth funding via the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

26-region deal
First Solar’s Australian foray was not the only noteworthy deal struck by the firm this week – Turkey’s Zorlu Holding, which operates as an industrial conglomerate, has signed an agreement to supply the company’s thin-film modules in 26 selected markets globally.

This is the first supply deal of its kind signed by First Solar. The terms of the five year deal see Zorlu become a major distributor of the thin-film panels across Turkey, Afghanistan, Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Pakistan, Romania, Serbia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Zorlu will also develop solar PV projects using First Solar modules.

“By leveraging Zorlu’s commercial strength in these countries, we expect to gain access to module sales opportunities in emerging markets, some of which we have not previously targeted,” enthused First Solar’s head of business development for Europe, Turkey and Africa, Stefan Degener.

Under the terms of the deal, First Solar will close its Istanbul office and shift its existing business development resources in Turkey to Zorlu Solar, which is a subsidiary of Zorlu Holdings.