Downer to construct 87 MW Beryl Solar Farm

Australian diversified infrastructure company Downer EDI Limited has been selected as the EPC on First Solar’s Beryl Solar Farm in the Central Tablelands region of New South Wales. The project reached financial close this month, with construction expected to take twelve months.

Notably, the project will the “one of the first large scale renewable projects” globally to use First Solar’s new module – the Series 6. 260,000 Series 6 modules will be deployed on the Beryl project. Single axis tracking technology will also be deployed.

The Series 6 is a significantly larger thin film module, in a first-of-its-kind for the global PV industry. At 2.47m2 in size, with an output of 420 W, the Series 6 can deliver reduced balance of system (BoS) costs for PV project developers.

On a module manufacturing basis, the Series 6 can be produced cost effectively by virtue of economies of scale, First Solar claims – with the deposition of the cadmium telluride (CdTe) semiconductor stack likened to flat panel TV manufacturing.

“Series 6 modules deliver more watts per connection than crystalline silicon modules,” said First Solar’s Vice President of Asia Pacific, Steven Jackson in a statement. “This enables Downer to realise construction cost savings while maximising the energy production for the project site, resulting in a lower levelised cost of energy.”

First Solar’s previous module, the Series 4, was known for suffering from a BoS penalty – whereby more mounting structures, cabling and other BoS components were required for an equivalent power output than if crystalline silicon modules were used.

Demand for Series 6 has been high, with First Solar reportedly unlikely to keep up with demand – in part spurring recently announced manufacturing capacity expansions.

The EPC contract on the 87 MW Beryl Solar Farm has been valued at $150 million.

The Beryl Solar Farm will be located around 5km west of the town of Gulgong, itself 300 km north west of Sydney.

“Large scale projects are critical to our regional communities and we are looking forward to partnering with First Solar to deliver the Beryl Solar Farm that will see significant economic and environmental benefits in regional New South Wales,” said Grant Fenn, the Chief Executive Officer of Downer in a statement.

First Solar reports around 150 jobs will be created during construction.