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First Solar sets up pilot Saudi irrigation project

RIYADH, January 26, 2016

US-based First Solar has joined hands with Al Watania Agriculture Company, one of the largest agricultural enterprises in the Middle East, to install a 684-kW pilot PV system for a major agricultural farm in the kingdom.

A leader in utility-scale PV solar power systems, First Solar said the pilot project is aimed at evaluating the use of solar electricity to sustainably power irrigation at a large farm in Saudi Arabia.

The farm, which covers a total of 319.21 sq km, is the kingdom’s largest producer of organic products and currently uses conventional fuel to pump water from 150 bore wells.

The pilot project - jointly funded by First Solar Saudi Arabia and the Al Watania - is powered by First Solar’s advanced thin film PV modules.

The facility produces 1,476 MWh of electricity per year, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 1,100 ton per year based on national averages, which is equivalent to planting 28,000 trees per year.
The solar power plant replaces a diesel generator, which would ordinarily consume 628,000 litres of diesel per year, if run continuously, it stated.

On the pilot project, Ibrahim Aboabat, the chief executive of Al Watania Agriculture, said: "We are proud to partner with First Solar on this exciting new project, which will not only help reduce our carbon footprint, but will also allow us to explore the potential for solar to reliably support our energy needs."

"Al Watania Organic was born out of our founder, Sheikh Sulaiman Abdulaziz Al Rajhi’s vision of agricultural products being sustainably farmed right here in Saudi Arabia. Implementing the use of solar electricity will help further that vision and will allow us to move towards our goal of becoming the region’s first truly sustainable large-scale agricultural operation," he added.

According to First Solar, the advanced thin film modules deployed at the site are ideally suited to local environmental conditions, offering a combination of a superior temperature coefficient and spectral performance, allowing for optimum performance in weather like that of Saudi Arabia.

The installed PV generator will pump over 3,1 million cu m of water per year, unaided by conventional generators, it stated.      

“This project is an excellent example of the scalability and flexibility that solar PV offers. Easy-to-deploy and able to address very specific needs, innovative solar-powered solutions can address a wide range of energy challenges, as this pilot facility demonstrates,” remarked Dr Raed Bkayrat, VP (Business) for First Solar in the Middle East.

“Sunlight is the region’s most abundant energy resource and the Al Watania should be applauded for having the vision to sustainably harness affordable and reliable solar electricity to address its energy needs,” he added.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Saudi | Irrigation | pilot project | First Solar |

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