AGL is delivering two large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants with a total capacity of 155 MW (AC) at Nyngan (102 MW) and Broken Hill (53 MW) in regional New South Wales. To support AGL’s delivery of the projects, The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has provided $166.7 million in funding and the NSW Government has provided $64.9 million.
On an annual basis, the projects at Nyngan and Broken Hill will produce approximately 360,000 megawatt hours of electricity once operational, which will be sufficient to meet the needs of over 50,000 average NSW homes.
Broken Hill has one of the highest levels of solar radiation in NSW, making it an ideal location for a solar power plant. The city has a large population with several mines located nearby, meaning there is significant need for electrical power in the region. An existing substation is located near the project site, allowing for relatively efficient connection into the electrical grid.
The project site is located approximately five kilometres southwest of the Broken Hill township, adjacent to Willyama Common. The solar plant will occupy approximately 140 hectares of land bounded by the Barrier Highway to the north and the Peterborough-Broken Hill rail line to the south. The project site is Crown Land administered by the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Catchment and Lands Division.
AGL will develop, own, and manage the project. First Solar will provide AGL with engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services and will also maintain the plant for five years after commercial operation starts. The electricity produced by the project will be sold under a power purchase agreement to AGL Hydro Partnership, a wholly owned subsidiary of AGL.
Construction of the Broken Hill Solar Plant will commence around July 2014 and is expected to be completed by the end of November 2015.
First Solar's advanced cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin film photovoltaic (PV) modules will be used to convert sunlight into electricity which will be fed into the electrical grid. This process generates electricity with no air emissions, no waste production and no water use, and has one of the smallest carbon footprints of any current PV technology.
AGL estimates that up to 150 direct, local construction jobs will be generated in Broken Hill during the approximately 16 month construction period. First Solar will source as many of these jobs from the Broken Hill community and surrounding area as possible. In addition, First Solar will aim to maximise local and regional content in plant procurement and construction through local sourcing of materials.
Local opportunities provided during plant construction may include:
AGL estimates that tens of millions of dollars will be spent in the region during plant construction on labour, housing, food and materials. This economic activity will create additional jobs in the region at hotels, restaurants, shopping centres, materials suppliers and other local businesses.
The construction of the solar plant will provide training to local workers in solar plant construction, high voltage power system construction, and construction management support and logistics. Additionally, plant construction and operation will engage a broad range of participants about solar construction methods, local planning issues and solar plant performance. The Broken Hill project, together with AGL’s other solar project at Nyngan, will assist with supply chain development across the state that will benefit the entire solar industry in Australia.
The Broken Hill Solar Plant is expected to generate approximately 126,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of clean, renewable electricity each year. On an annual basis, the project will produce enough electricity to meet the needs of approximately 17,000 average New South Wales homes.
The project will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by over 109,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per annum, assuming a rate of 0.87 tonnes per MWh of electricity. This is roughly equivalent to removing approximately 29,000 cars from the road. Particulate and heavy metal emissions will also be reduced.
The AGL solar projects will also facilitate research supported by the Education Investment Fund (EIF). AGL will collaborate with the University of Queensland (UQ) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW), as well as First Solar, to implement original research which will support the future development of solar energy in Australia.
The Australian Government will provide $40.7 million to UQ and UNSW to support construction of research infrastructure through the Education Investment Fund.
The University of Queensland (UQ) will build a 3.275 MW PV research plant at its Gatton campus to test tracking technologies and performance, energy storage, and operational strategies. UQ will also build a data analysis centre at its St Lucia campus to collect and analyse data from the Gatton research plant and the main AGL power stations.
The University of New South Wales (UNSW) will develop new energy modelling techniques to assist in the design and integration of solar power stations into the electricity grid. UQ's media release can be found here.
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