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30 May 2019

First Solar and Capital Dynamics announce commissioning of 280MW California Flats Solar Project

Independent global private asset management firm Capital Dynamics and First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA – which makes thin-film photovoltaic modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe) as well as providing engineering, procurement & construction (EPC) services – have announced the completion and commercial operation of the 280MWAC California Flats Solar Project, located on about 2900 acres within the Jack Ranch owned by Hearst, near the borders of San Luis Obispo and Monterey County.

The project partners placed emphasized co-locating the project with one of the largest working cattle ranches in the USA while minimizing and mitigating the environmental impact of constructing the solar plant. Ranch employees worked in tandem with the construction and operation teams, with input from stakeholders, to assess and plan the development. The facility hence has a low visual impact and cannot be seen from any public roads. The project supports and complements the sustainable cattle operation of the ranch, which provides grass-fed beef to Whole Foods Market’s Southern Pacific region, reducing pressure to use the ranch land for other commercial purposes.

“The California Flats Solar Project helped us meet our goal of finding a sustainable solution to keep the 73,000-acre Jack Ranch intact as a historic working cattle ranch,” says Steve Hearst, VP & general manager of Hearst Western Properties. “Countless hours have been invested by Hearst and our partners in bringing this sizable, complex project to fruition and ensuring it operates seamlessly with our cattle operation and ranch environment.”

Covering about 3% of the area of the ranch, the project was built in two phases and is fully contracted under two long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) serving both utility and corporate renewable customers. First Solar completed development and constructed the facility after acquiring the project in 2015. Capital Dynamics acquired the project from First Solar in August 2017.

“This project confirms that solar energy can successfully co-exist with the natural environment and an active agricultural operation,” comments Troy Lauterbach, senior VP of EPC & Energy Services at First Solar. “The California Flats Solar Project is also the first to feature our innovative Series 6 PV module technology,” he adds. Manufactured by First Solar in the USA, the Series 6 modules are claimed to have about half the carbon footprint of conventional crystalline silicon PV panels, delivering the smallest environmental footprint and the fastest energy payback time of any PV technology.

Construction of the project took about three years, creating about 2.1 million work hours, and had a peak construction workforce of over 1100. The facility will generate energy equivalent to the needs of about 116,000 average California households per year, displacing more than 109,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually based on the PG&E grid (equivalent to taking about 22,000 cars off the road).

“While this project is located in Monterey County, its impacts on job creation and the economy will be felt throughout the state,” notes Chris Lopez, vice chair of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors.

Tags: First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic CdTe

Visit: www.firstsolar.com

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