AUO Solar Panels Power South Africa’s First PV Solar Farms

AU Optronics Corp. (AUO) has announced its recent completion of South Africa’s first PV based solar farm project.

Based on AUO solar panels, two solar farms with a combined 1.2MW capacity were completed just prior to the 2011 United Nations 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) climate talks in Durban.

The solar farms will generate around 2.2 million kWh of clean electricity annually.

The project involved two different PV configurations; a 600kW solar tracker based system in Lethabo and a 600kW ground mounted solar array in Kendal.

The solar farms were constructed for Eskom; which generates approximately 95% of the electricity used in South Africa and around 45% of the electricity used in the entire African continent.

While the facilities will generate enough power to provide for the electricity requirements of 1,500 households, the plants will be supplying electricity for operations at coal fired generation plants as part of Eskom’s long term strategy to reduce its carbon footprint.

The South African Government has set a renewables target that equates to a cumulative 10,000 GWh of energy by the year 2013.

A new name in Australia in terms of solar panels, AUO generated US$16 billion in 2010 and boasts a staff of 43,000 around the world. Originally focused on manufacturing thin film transistor liquid crystal display panels (TFT-LCD), AUO expanded into the solar photovoltaic sector in 2008.

In addition to traditional DC modules, AUO produces AC solar panels that incorporate a micro-inverter.

The company now has PV module plants in Taiwan, China and the Czech Republic. In May 2010, AUO partnered with SunPower to invest in a solar cell manufacturing facility in Malaysia.

AUO states it is Taiwan’s largest module manufacturer and given the strong demand for its solar panels, the company will increase its production capacity by more than 50MW in the first quarter of 2012.