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 Nyngan Solar Plant is expected to generate approximately 233,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of clean, renewable electricity each year.
On an annual basis, the Nyngan Solar Plant will produce enough electricity to meet the needs of approximately 33,000 average New South Wales homes.
The project will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by over 195,720 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per annum, assuming a rate of 0.84 tonnes per MWh of electricity. This is roughly equivalent to removing 53,000 cars from the road. Particulate and heavy metal emissions will also be reduced.
On behalf of the Powering Australian Renewables Fund (PARF), AGL announced in November 2016 that it had reached financial close on selling its 102 MW Nyngan and 53 MW Broken Hill solar plants into the fund.
The AU$257 million sale, with approximately nil profit on sale, includes AGL writing a long term offtake agreement with the Nyngan and Broken Hill solar plants.
The Nyngan Solar Plant is located on an agricultural property approximately 10 kilometres west of the Nyngan township. The solar plant occupies approximately 250 hectares of land to the north of the Barrier Highway.
Nyngan receives strong and consistent solar radiation, making it an ideal location for a solar power plant. The site is well-located between the regional centre of Dubbo to the east, and a number of mining loads at Cobar to the west, meaning there is significant need for electrical power in the region. The existing Nyngan - Cobar 132kV transmission line is located just south of the site, allowing for relatively efficient connection into the electrical grid. The project site is flat, rural land with a good buffer from Nyngan and nearby residents.
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 plant started in January 2014 and was completed in mid-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.
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. Over 7,000 MW of First Solar PV modules have been installed worldwide, including at many of the world’s largest solar PV plants.
The Nyngan Solar Plant will consist of approximately 1,350,000 solar PV modules installed on frames which are supported by around 150,000 steel posts. The modules will be installed at a fixed (non-tracking) tilt, at a 25 degree angle, and will face north. The modules will be wired together in arrays which will be connected to inverters to transform the DC current produced by the modules into AC current that can be fed into the grid network.
The solar plant will be connected to a new substation which will be constructed at the site. A 33/132kV transformer will convert the output from the plant to grid voltage. A short section (approximately three kilometres long) of new 132kV transmission line will be built to connect the substation to the existing Nyngan – Cobar transmission line, located south of the project site.
Generation from the Nyngan Solar Plant commenced on 21 March 2015 and full generation (102 MW) was achieved in June 2015.
The following information from 2016 is shown in the attached report
The Nyngan Solar Plant is connected to the National Electricity Market (NEM) which is managed by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). For a glossary of terms associated with the NEM and mentioned in our report please refer to the AEMO website. The solar plant revenue is also subject to the Marginal Loss Factors (MLF) which are published each financial year by AEMO.
During the construction period, AGL estimates that up to 300 direct, local construction jobs were generated in Nyngan. First Solar were focused on sourcing as many of these jobs from Nyngan and the surrounding region as possible. In addition, during construction First Solar were able to maximise local and regional content in plant procurement and construction through local sourcing of materials.
Local opportunities provided during plant construction may include:
The construction of the solar plant included providing training to local workers in solar plant construction, high voltage power system construction, and construction management support and logistics. Additionally, plant construction and operation involve engaging a broad range of participants about solar construction methods, local planning issues and solar plant performance.
The Nyngan Solar Plant is expected to generate approximately 233,000 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 33,000 average New South Wales homes. The project will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by over 195,720 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per annum, assuming a rate of 0.84 tonnes per MWh of electricity. This is roughly equivalent to removing 53,000 cars from the road. Particulate and heavy metal emissions will also be reduced.
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 3.275MW 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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