AGL's Broken Hill Solar Plant achieves full generation

AGL Energy Limited (AGL) today confirmed the Broken Hill Solar Plant in western New South Wales (NSW) has achieved full capacity, sending 53 MW of renewable energy into the National Electricity Market.

AGL Executive General Manager Group Operations, Doug Jackson, said the team has been working very closely with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and local network service provider TransGrid during testing and commissioning of the plant to enable 100 percent generation.

“The momentum at our Broken Hill project has been really building. We installed the last of the 677,760 solar photovoltaic (PV) modules on Monday and have been pre-commissioning sections in preparation. This is the result of over 300,000 site hours and we are really pleased with the progress and congratulate employees and contractors for all their efforts. Importantly, we did not have any lost time injuries during the 12-month construction period.

“With Broken Hill being the sister solar plant to Nyngan it benefited from lessons learned which has enabled the commissioning phase to be compressed. We are still progressing final commissioning and testing with the aim of being fully operational by early December,” said Mr Jackson.

The Broken Hill solar plant, which will produce enough renewable energy to power 17,000 homes every year, is another example of AGL’s commitment to transitioning to a carbon constrained society. It is part of AGL’s pathway to the decarbonisation of its electricity generation fleet by 2050.

According to Federal Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt, “This Government is investing in renewable innovation and technology to reduce emissions and reduce electricity prices.

“Through projects like this one, we are helping Australians do their bit for the environment without increasing the cost of living for families. The two AGL Solar Projects will power 50,000 Australian households with renewable energy."

NSW Environment Minister Mark Speakman said this is great news for the people of Broken Hill and the wider NSW community.

“I congratulate AGL on achieving the first generation from this plant and I am particularly pleased as this is the culmination of many years’ work. We’ve created a new era for large-scale solar energy in the Southern Hemisphere and intend to capitalise on this momentum.”

Acting ARENA CEO Ian Kay congratulated AGL and First Solar on another significant achievement at the Broken Hill plant.

“The compressed commissioning phase which has resulted in full generation sends a positive signal for large-scale solar in Australia and is further proof that it’s possible to speed up project development by drawing on existing experience and expertise. This momentum is set to continue as the utility-scale knowledge base expands and more projects are delivered through ARENA’s $100 million large-scale solar round which closed to Expressions of Interest on Tuesday.”

First Solar’s Senior Director of Operation and Maintenance, Frank Teofilo, said that his onsite and support teams are already in place to take on the ongoing maintenance of the Solar Plant once commissioning is complete.

“The Broken Hill Power Plant will add to the over 200 MW of PV plants First Solar has under operation and maintenance (O&M) in Australia and over 4 GW worldwide. The announcement of full generation is an exciting milestone and as we transition to the operations phase of the project, First Solar will seek to maximise the plant’s energy production and availability,” said Mr Teofilo.

To date $15 million has been injected into the local Broken Hill community for direct construction activities as well as indirectly through workers purchasing accommodation, food, petrol and other supplies locally.

AGL is delivering the Broken Hill project along with the 102 MW Nyngan solar plant in partnership with the NSW Government, the Federal Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the Broken Hill City Council and local community as well as project partner, First Solar.

Total capital expenditure for the two projects is approximately $440 million, with $166.7 million being provided by the ARENA and $64.9 million from the NSW Government.

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About AGL
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.
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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.
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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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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