AGL Energy Limited’s (AGL) Nyngan Solar Plant in western New South Wales today began generating power with the first 25 MW of 100 percent renewable energy feeding into the National Electricity Market.
The electricity is coming from a section of the solar plant which consists of approximately 350,000 solar photovoltaic (PV) modules. Further generation will progressively be brought online over the next three months as the remaining three sections of the plant are individually commissioned.
AGL Group General Manager Merchant Energy, Anthony Fowler, said this is a significant milestone for Australia’s largest utility-scale solar PV plant.
"First generation represents a great achievement for all the project stakeholders. It has required close coordination between local electricity distributor Essential Energy, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), project partner First Solar and AGL to facilitiate this successful milestone," Mr Fowler said.
Once completed, the $290 million Nyngan Solar Plant will have capacity of 102 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.
Environment Minister Rob Stokes said the NSW Government was strongly committed to the transition to renewable energy, through projects such as this.
"The Baird Government wants NSW to lead the nation in clean energy development, and this $64.9 million investment is a strong demonstration of our dedication to that goal.
"There are an estimated 13,000 jobs supported by renewable energy in NSW, mostly in regional areas. Renewable energy generation in NSW has doubled over the last decade and has driven $8 billion of investment, predominantly in regional areas. The development of projects in regional NSW has the potential to provide traditional farming communities with alternative income streams that are not rainfall dependent," Mr Stokes said.
According to Jack Curtis, First Solar’s Asia-Pacific Regional Manager, "First generation at Nyngan represents an important milestone, especially as it relates to the broader power sector’s adoption of utility-scale solar as a meaningful contributor to Australia’s generation mix.
"We commend AGL for its first-mover commitment to the sector, with the fantastic support from both ARENA and the NSW Government," said Mr Curtis.
The Nyngan solar plant will produce enough renewable electricity annually to supply more than 33,000 homes.
AGL is constructing the Nyngan Solar Plant and the 53 MW Broken Hill Solar Plant with $166.7 million funding support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and $64.9 million from the NSW Government. Both plants are being constructed in partnership with First Solar, local councils, and local communities.
ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht congratulated AGL on the achievement and said the project is paving the way for more large-scale solar plants to be built in Australia.
"AGL’s solar project will help bring down the cost of similar plants, making them more competitive. In addition to creating jobs, boosting skills and contributing to local communities, the development of utility-scale solar is vital to a diverse energy future," Mr Frischknecht said.
The Nyngan project has provided economic benefits for the community including employment, which during the peak of construction reached more than 250 people on site. Businesses in Nyngan and the wider Orana region have also benefited from local procurement and contracts associated with the project’s construction.
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 hydro, wind, landfill gas and biomass. AGL is taking action toward creating a sustainable energy future for 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. Visit www.arena.gov.au
About NSW Government support for renewable energy
The NSW Government supports the development and uptake of renewable energy in the state. The NSW Renewable Energy Action Plan is the main driver for increasing the uptake of renewable energy in the state. The Plan’s three goals and 24 actions support the Government’s commitment to a secure, reliable, affordable and clean energy future for households and businesses in NSW and the national Renewable Energy Target. The NSW Regional Clean Energy Program (RCEP) and the Renewable Energy Advocate 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