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Broken Hill Solar Plant

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In conjunction with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the NSW Government, AGL delivered 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. ARENA provided $166.7 million in funding and the NSW Government provided $64.9 million.

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 Broken Hill Solar Plant 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 105,840 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per annum, assuming a rate of 0.84 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.  

Fact Sheet: Broken Hill Solar Plant

Location

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 site is located approximately five kilometres southwest of the Broken Hill township, adjacent to Willyama Common.  The solar plant occupies approximately 140 hectares of land bounded by the Barrier Highway to the north and the Peterborough-Broken Hill rail line to the south.  The site is Crown Land administered by the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Catchment and Lands Division. 

Map: Broken Hill Solar Plant

Project Delivery

AGL were responsible for the development and management of the project. First Solar provided 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 started in mid July 2014 and was completed at the end of 2015. 

AGL Energy Limited’s Nyngan and Broken Hill solar plants, Australia’s largest utility-scale solar PV power plants located in western NSW, were officially opened during a ceremony at the Nyngan plant in January 2016.

ASX Release

How does the Solar Plant work?

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.

Key Statistics: Broken Hill Solar Plant

Project Benefits

Jobs

During the construction period, AGL estimates that up to 150 direct, local construction jobs will be generated in Broken Hill. 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 sourcing local materials.

Local opportunities provided during plant construction includes:

  • Civil engineering and site preparation
  • Post, racking, and module installation
  • High voltage power system works
  • Communications and monitoring system works
  • Construction and supervision roles
  • Administration and construction support roles.

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 may create additional jobs in the region at hotels, restaurants, shopping centres, materials suppliers and other local businesses.

Refer to the Broken Hill Community Matters page for more information on job enquiries.

Industry

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.

 

Environmental

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 105,840 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per annum, assuming a rate of 0.84 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.

 

Research

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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