First Solar power facility becomes world’s first to deliver grid services

21 August 2020 (Last Updated August 21st, 2020 12:58)

First Solar has named one of its power plants as the world’s first licensed utility-scale solar facility to commercially deliver ancillary grid services.

First Solar power facility becomes world’s first to deliver grid services
First Solar developed and operates the Luz del Norte solar plant. Credit: First Solar, Inc.

First Solar has named one of its power plants as the world’s first licensed utility-scale solar facility to commercially deliver ancillary grid services.

The US-based photovoltaic (PV) solutions provider has said its Luz del Norte facility will now deliver a range of grid services, including automatic generation control.

Coordinador Eléctrico Nacional, an independent system operator (ISO) in Chile, has added the facility to its portfolio of large-scale power generators.

Chile Ministry of Energy environmental head Carlos Barria said: “We are very pleased with this achievement as this increases the spectrum of technologies capable of providing the services needed to maintain a safe and reliable operation of the electrical system.

“These demonstrated capabilities are in line with our plans in integrating higher levels of renewable energy in our grid, which will enable us to achieve our goal to phase out coal-fired power plants by 2040 and to be carbon neutral by 2050.”

Located in Copiapó, Luz del Norte is a 141MW AC solar PV facility that was commissioned in 2016. The ISO currently uses it to manage the frequency of the country’s electricity system and ensure the national grid’s reliability and stability.

It is equipped with First Solar’s thin-film module technology and can generate sufficient energy to power 50,000 average Chilean homes with the lowest carbon footprint.

The ISO added the project to its portfolio after an audit jointly conducted by the Coordinador Eléctrico Nacional, Laborelec Latam, and First Solar.

First Solar Energy Services senior vice-president Troy Lauterbach said: “Chile’s visionary approach to designing its future grid allowed us to take a proven concept and implement a commercially and technically viable solution.

“As utility companies and ISOs around the world grapple with the challenge of decarbonising their grids, Luz del Norte has come to represent the realisable potential of large-scale solar.”

In May, First Solar signed an agreement to supply 415MW of its Series 6 PV modules to National Grid subsidiary Geronimo Energy in 2022.