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 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, which will be sufficient to meet the needs of over 50,000 average NSW homes.
The Nyngan Solar Plant site is located on an agricultural property approximately 10 kilometres west of the Nyngan township. The solar plant occupies approximately 250 hectares of land to the north of the Barrier Highway.
Nyngan receives strong and consistent solar radiation, making it an ideal location for a solar power plant. The project site is well located between the regional centre of Dubbo to the east, and a number of mining loads at Cobar to the west, meaning there is significant need for electrical power in the region. The existing Nyngan - Cobar 132kV transmission line is located just south of the site, allowing for relatively efficient connection into the electrical grid. The project site is flat, rural land with a good buffer from Nyngan and nearby residents.
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 plant started in January 2014 and is expected to be completed by the end of June 2015. In March 2015, the Nyngan Solar Plant began generating power with the first 25 MW of renewable energy feeding into the National Energy Grid.
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. Over 7,000 MW of First Solar PV modules have been installed worldwide, including at many of the world’s largest solar PV plants.
The Nyngan Solar Plant will consist of approximately 1,350,000 solar PV modules installed on frames which are supported by around 150,000 steel posts. The modules will be installed at a fixed (non-tracking) tilt, at a 25 degree angle, and will face north. The modules will be wired together in arrays which will be connected to inverters to transform the DC current produced by the modules into AC current that can be fed into the grid network.
The solar plant will be connected to a new substation which will be constructed at the site. A 33/132kV transformer will convert the output from the plant to grid voltage. A short section (approximately three kilometres long) of new 132kV transmission line will be built to connect the substation to the existing Nyngan – Cobar transmission line, located south of the project site.
AGL estimates that up to 300 direct, local construction jobs will be generated in Nyngan during the construction period. First Solar will source as many of these jobs from Nyngan and the surrounding region 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.
Click here for further information on employment opportunities on the Nyngan Solar Plant.
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 Nyngan project, together with AGL’s other solar project at Broken Hill, will assist with supply chain development across the state that will benefit the entire solar industry in Australia.
The Nyngan Solar Plant is expected to generate approximately 233,000 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 33,000 average New South Wales homes. The project will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by over 203,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per annum, assuming a rate of 0.87 tonnes per MWh of electricity. This is roughly equivalent to removing 53,000 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 3.275MW 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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