Current Location

DKASC, Alice Springs

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Manufacturer First Solar
Array Rating 5.6kW
PV Technology CdTe
Array Structure Fixed: Ground Mount
Installed 2013

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Current Output

Cadmium Telluride thin-film array, fixed ground-mount.

Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) replaces silicon as the active photovoltaic material in these modules. This is a thin-film technology where the active photovoltaic material is deposited in a thin layer on the panel’s glass substrate. The manufacture of CdTe thin-film panels is a simpler and faster process than for other thin-films, and less photoelectric material is consumed in their production than for crystalline silicon technology, leading to lower manufacturing costs.

In the laboratory, CdTe modules have achieved efficiencies comparable to crystalline silicon modules. All solar technologies produce less power as their operating temperature rises, but CdTe thin film technologies reduce half as much as crystalline silicon technologies in hot conditions.

First Solar is a global business that manufactures, engineers, procures and constructs utility scale photovoltaic plants, and provides operation and maintenance services for these plants in Australia and internationally.

The above technology description has been supplied by the manufacturer. The Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre is pleased to provide a platform for information sharing while not endorsing specific claims made about technologies installed at the site.

Array Rating 5.6kW
Number Of Panels 64
Panel Type First Solar FS-387
Array Area 46.08 m²
Type Of Tracker N/A
Inverter Size / Type 6 kW, SMA SMC 6000
Installation Completed Wed, 6 Feb 2013
Array Tilt/Azimuth Tilt = 20, Azi = 0 (Solar North)


Notes on the Data

  1. Site 28: Smashed Module Replacement

    Three smashed modules identified in late May 2018 have been replaced. The system was disconnected for these works on 17 August 2018, for a brief period in the early afternoon.


    Fri, 17 Aug 2018

  2. System Disconnection for Cabling Works

    All arrays at the Solar Centre were disconnected from approximately 2.00pm to 3.00pm on Monday, 9 July 2018 in preparation for the cable between the main switchboard and distribution board being upgraded. Array sites #23-38 remained disconnected while the main feeder cable to these sites was replaced in subsequent days, but all systems were re-connected by early afternoon on Thursday, 12 July 2018.


    Mon, 9 Jul 2018

  3. System Outage at Australia Day Long Weekend

    A breaker tripped at around 12.30pm on Friday, 26 January, likely due to high generation levels reached at this peak time on this high irradiance day. Connection was restored after the Australia Day long weekend at around 11.30am on Monday, 29 January but shortly tripped again.

    UPDATE 26-02-2018. The cause of this reoccurring issue has been identified and will be rectified. The solution requires the upgrading of a key distribution cable. This should be completed in the coming months.


    Fri, 26 Jan 2018

  4. Connection Restored After Christmas/NY Period

    Arrays have been re-connected following the outage that disconnected multiple sites from Christmas day 2017. The outage is believed to have been triggered by the tripping of two circuit breakers in separate distribution boards, making the diagnosis initially elusive. The ability of the common circuit shared by these arrays to keep abreast with increasingly high current demands as new arrays are installed and generation conditions are high is presently being addressed. For the same reason, intermittent outages persisted in the summer of early 2018.


    Fri, 19 Jan 2018

  5. System Outage at Christmas/NY Period

    A system outage was caused by a circuit breaker trip at approximately 2pm on a high generation day shortly after installation of a new array at the DKA Solar Centre. The outage commenced on 25 December continuing into the new year and is being addressed.


    Mon, 25 Dec 2017

  6. System Outage for New Array Connection

    Sites 23 through to 37 experienced an outage today from 11:10 to 11:50. The outage was due to the local distribution board being temporarily being taken offline to allow for the connection of a new PV system.  


    Wed, 20 Dec 2017

  7. Monitoring Interruption for UPS Battery Replacement

    The disconnection and re-connection of the solar arrays and weather station equipment while a new site connection was being established prompted the already flattening UPS batteries which power the site’s energy meters to fail and require immediate replacement. Data recording was affected from approximately 2.30pm ACST, Monday 10 July to 4.00pm, Wednesday 12 July.

    Affects weather data for DKASC, Alice Springs


    Wed, 12 Jul 2017

  8. Partial System Outage

    One of the major switchboards at the DKASC lost power yesterday 01/12/2016 at ~11:00 am. This isolated and shutdown array sites 23 through to 37 inclusive. The switchboard was re-energised at ~16:30 today (02/12/2016) and is again operating normally. Data for this period for these sites is lost.


    Fri, 2 Dec 2016



>  Answer to Spotlight Question

Onsite at the DKA Solar Centre in Alice Springs are a series of quiz-like Spotlight Questions at each array. Visit the centre and scan the QR code at each sign to test your knowledge – and check your answer here!

Q: What differences can you see compared to the CdTe modules installed in 2008 by the same manufacturer? (array #7)

A: At the Solar Centre, the two arrays that use First Solar modules were installed in 2008 (array #7) and 2013 (array #28) respectively. They use FS-272 and FS-387 models respectively, both being thin film CdTe varieties. Glossy black and visually similar, both of these modules are frameless and identical in dimension and weight, but the older modules are rated at 73 W each while the newer, 87.5 W each. A subtle difference that can be seen between these models is the number of active cells: 116 cells on the FS-272 module compared to 154 cells on the FS-387, although both modules have the same surface area. Thus, the new modules are more efficient in terms of power capacity per area, translating into array efficiencies of 0.101 kW/sqm and 0.122 kW/sqm respectively. However, the actual power capacity of the 2008 array is larger, and this array was also mounted lower to the ground in order to demonstrate an alternative installation method using rammed poles rather than standard concrete footings.