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AGL installs first modules at Australia's largest solar plant


AGL Energy Limited (AGL) today celebrated a major milestone with the installation of the first solar photovoltaic (PV) modules at its 102 MW Nyngan Solar Plant in western New South Wales (NSW).

Together with the NSW Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water and Minister for Western NSW, the Hon. Kevin Humphries, Federal Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton, NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy, Leslie Williams, Bogan Shire Council Mayor Ray Donald and other local community representatives; AGL, project partner First Solar, officials from the Federal Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and local workers gathered on the 250 hectare site to install the first solar PV modules.

When completed, the Nyngan Solar Plant will be Australia’s largest utility-scale solar plant with approximately 1.35 million advanced thin-film solar PV modules installed. If placed end-to-end, the modules would measure more than 1,600 kilometres, or the equivalent distance of Nyngan to Uluru as the crow flies.

AGL General Manager Power Development, Scott Thomas said AGL is very pleased with the progress of the project and achieving such an important milestone on schedule.

“Once operational, the Nyngan Solar Plant will produce enough renewable electricity annually to supply more than 33,000 homes.

“AGL has already invested over $3 billion in renewable energy generation in Australia and with projects like the Nyngan Solar Plant, is increasing the proportion of zero carbon emission generation in the National Electricity Market,” said Mr Thomas.

AGL will construct the Nyngan Solar Plant along with the 53 MW Broken Hill Solar Plant with $166.7 million funding from ARENA and $64.9 million from the NSW Government. The two plants are being developed in partnership with local councils, local communities, and First Solar.

The cost to build both solar plants is $440 million, with Nyngan representing $290 million. First Solar is providing engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for both projects and will maintain the plants during the first five years of operation.

“We’re proud of the work that has gone into reaching this important project milestone and, in particular, the contribution of our local suppliers and subcontractors,” said Jack Curtis, First Solar’s Regional Vice President for Asia Pacific.

“Local procurement is accounting for over 55 percent of total procurement spending on the Nyngan project, which demonstrates that the benefits of projects such as this are shared not only locally but regionally and nationally. When you consider that there are already over 150 multi-skilled construction jobs on the site itself, it reinforces the fact that utility-scale solar farms not only provide Australia with clean energy but also with sustainable job opportunities across the sector.”

Of the 156 people currently working on the project around one third are from the local region. During the peak of construction, up to 300 people will be employed on site with the majority of those from the local region. Once completed there will be up to four local full-time employees required to operate and maintain the plant during its estimated 30 year life span.

“Over this same time period it is anticipated around $137 million will flow into the regional economy through employment and direct maintenance service requirements such as plant and infrastructure upgrades,” Mr Thomas explained.

The Nyngan Solar Plant is expected to be completed by June 2015. The Broken Hill Solar Plant began construction earlier this month, with an estimated completion date of November 2015.

About AGL

AGL is one of Australia's leading integrated renewable energy companies and is taking action toward creating a sustainable energy future for our investors, communities and customers. Drawing on over 175 years of experience, AGL operates retail and merchant energy businesses, power generation assets and an upstream gas portfolio. AGL has one of Australia's largest retail energy and dual fuel customer bases. AGL has a diverse power generation portfolio including base, peaking and intermediate generation plants, spread across traditional thermal generation as well as renewable sources including hydro, wind, landfill gas,biomass and solar. AGL is Australia's largest private owner and operator of renewable energy assets and is looking to further expand this position by exploring a suite of low emission and renewable energy generation development opportunities.

About First Solar, Inc.

First Solar is a leading global provider of comprehensive photovoltaic (PV) solar systems which use its advanced module and system technology. The company’s integrated power plant solutions deliver an economically attractive alternative to fossil-fuel electricity generation today. From raw material sourcing through end-of-life module recycling, First Solar’s renewable energy systems protect and enhance the environment. For more information about First Solar, please visit www.firstsolar.com

About the Australian Renewable Energy Agency

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) was established by the Australian Government as an independent agency on 1 July 2012 to make renewable energy technologies more affordable and increase the amount of renewable energy used in Australia. ARENA invests in renewable energy projects, supports research and development activities, boosts job creation and industry development, and increases knowledge about renewable energy.

About NSW Government support for renewable energy

The NSW Government supports the development and uptake of the renewable energy in the state. The NSW Renewable Energy Action Plan will be the main driver for increasing the uptake of renewable energy in the state. The plan’s three goals and 24 actions will guide NSW’s renewable energy development and support the national target of achieving 20% electricity from renewable sources by 2020 at least cost to the energy customer and with maximum benefits to NSW. The NSW Regional Clean Energy Program (RCEP) and the Renewable Energy Advocate will work closely with NSW communities and the renewable energy industry to facilitate the development of renewable energy projects, increase renewable energy generation in NSW and help remove barriers and promote investment in renewable energy.

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