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First Solar has opened its new global operations centre, which will monitor and control power plants in the company’s operation and maintenance programme from one central location.
Located in Mesa, Arizona, the centre is compliant with North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) standards and is designed to be scalable to assist First Solar’s worldwide PV power plants in its O&M programme.
First Solar currently operates 14 plants with a total capacity of 460MW. The company expects that capacity to increase to 23 plants at 850MW by the end of this year and 2,200MW of capacity in 2013. The operations centre collects and processes real-time power plant data, including electrical performance, equipment status and weather data. One of the key features of the centre is its ability to use automated data analysis to identify issues in the plants and automatically dispatch maintenance crews to resolve the issue.
Bob Callery, First Solar's Vice President of O&M, said: “Our years of experience and investment have enabled us to build a proprietary system that allows us to optimize our customers’ power plants to produce the maximum amount of energy and revenue under their power purchase agreements while minimizing costs and risk. The vast quantity of data we gather also gives us invaluable insight into the real-word performance of our products and supports the continuous improvement of our power plants."