AGL Energy Limited (AGL) today confirmed that the Nyngan Solar Plant in western New South Wales (NSW) has achieved full generation, sending 102 MW of renewable energy into the National Electricity Market.
AGL Project Manager for both the Nyngan and Broken Hill Solar Plants, Adam Mackett, said the team has been working very closely with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and local distributor Essential Energy (EE) to make sure testing and commissioning was satisfactory to enable 100 percent generation.
“This is a great achievement for the largest utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) plant ever built in Australia. We have received confirmation from both AEMO and EE to increase generation to full capacity of 102 MW which is enough to power 33,000 homes annually, or the equivalent of supplying electricity to residents in a city more than twice the size of Dubbo, in western NSW, for a year.
“We will now be conducting final commissioning and testing ahead of the plant being fully operational next month. We are particularly pleased that this project has provided many local workers with the opportunity to broaden their skills as well as an economic boost to the regional economy,” said Mr Mackett.
Environment Minister Mark Speakman said this is great news for the people of Nyngan and the wider NSW community. “It’s the culmination of many years of work by researchers, industry, government and the community. We’ve created a new era for large-scale solar energy in the Southern Hemisphere.”
“This new Australian record sends a strong signal to the energy industry that utility-scale solar PV plants can be constructed on time and on budget, said Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) CEO Ivor Frischknecht, adding, “ARENA is pleased to support this landmark project, which will greatly increase market confidence in future solar PV projects, bringing down the cost of planning, construction and finance.”
First Solar’s Regional Manager for Asia Pacific, Jack Curtis reinforced this, adding, “This achievement demonstrates how utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) power can be deployed at scale and seamlessly integrated into Australia’s electricity grid. The increased energy production and reliable long-term performance of First Solar’s advanced technology will continue to contribute to a lower Levelised Cost of Electricity; highlighting our ability to successfully translate science into a commercially viable product.”
The 250 hectare Nyngan solar plant together with its sister solar plant in Broken Hill, will have a combined capacity of 155 MW, bolstering AGL’s credentials as the largest ASX-listed owner, operator and developer of renewable energy generation in Australia. In the last decade AGL has invested more than $3 billion in renewable energy projects.
AGL’s 140 hectare Broken Hill plant has also reached a significant construction milestone, with 35 percent of the 650,000 solar PV modules installed.
“Construction at our 53 MW Broken Hill plant is on schedule. We’re also progressing plans for energising the plant with local network service provider Transgrid, which is an important step towards commissioning of the plant,” Mr Mackett explained. Combined, the two solar plants are expected to produce approximately 360,000 megawatt hours of electricity annually. This will be sufficient to meet the needs of over 50,000 average NSW homes.
Total capital expenditure for the two projects is approximately $440 million, with $166.7 million being provided by the Federal Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and $64.9 million from the NSW Government.
AGL will deliver the solar plants in partnership with local councils and communities, project partner First Solar, as well ARENA and the NSW Government.
AGL is one of Australia's leading integrated energy companies and is the largest ASX-listed owner, operator and developer of renewable energy generation in the country. 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 solar, hydro, wind, landfill gas and biomass. AGL is taking action toward creating a sustainable energy future for our investors, communities and customers.
About the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)
ARENA was established by the Australian Government 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. ARENA is currently supporting more than 200 projects and is actively seeking new projects to support.
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.
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