First Solar, Inc. has installed the final advanced photovoltaic (PV) module at the Nyngan Solar Plant in New South Wales (NSW), completing module installation for Australia’s largest solar project. The 1.36 million modules that make up the 102MW (AC) Nyngan Solar Plant will produce enough electricity each year to power over 33,300 average homes in NSW.
Approximately 25 per cent of generation from block one began in March this year. Once complete, the plant will not only be the largest PV plant in the Southern Hemisphere, but also a major milestone for the utility-scale solar industry in Australia.
Jack Curtis, First Solar’s Regional Manager for Asia Pacific said,
First Solar’s modules have dramatically improved in efficiency in recent years and this project demonstrates the increasing commercial competitiveness of our technology.
“These 1.36 million modules will have a higher energy yield than traditional crystalline silicon modules, particularly in hot climates, will produce no carbon emissions and will require no water during operation. Utility scale solar PV is already cost competitive with conventional generation in many parts of the world and will increasingly deliver economic stimulus to rural Australia without depleting natural resources,” Mr Curtis added.
ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said ARENA had been working with AGL and First Solar during the project’s planning and construction stages to ensure the energy industry would benefit from their experiences.
“To date we have published 19 reports covering a range of topics from planning, approvals and logistics to procurement, construction and grid connection. Pooling and sharing this knowledge will make it easier and cheaper to develop large scale solar plants in Australia by helping reduce financial, regulatory and technical barriers,” Mr Frischknecht said.
Andy Vesey, AGL’s Managing Director and CEO said the low-emission technology utilized in the Nyngan Solar Plant is an important part of AGL’s journey towards a decarbonised electricity generation sector.
The Nyngan Solar Plant is an extremely impressive facility on both an Australian and world scale. I am proud to be able to mark this milestone and also see about half the plant now online and delivering clean, renewable energy into the grid. We are pleased to be adding to AGL’s and Australia’s portfolio of renewable energy generation and assets.
The construction of the Nyngan Solar Plant has created more than 250 on-site jobs. It also created off-site jobs to supply material as well as roles responsible for the design, management and support of the project.
“First Solar has pursued every opportunity to support local and regional businesses throughout the construction of the Nyngan Solar Plant,” Mr Curtis said.
In addition to boosting the local economy through job creation, First Solar supported Australian automotive parts manufactures who were exploring new business opportunities. They produced vital parts, like mounting structures, transformers and switchgear to the plant.
Local procurement accounted for over 55 per cent of the total procurement spend on the Nyngan Solar Plant.
In addition to the Nyngan Solar Project, AGL also engaged First Solar to deliver the 53 MW (AC) Broken Hill Solar Plant, also located in NSW. With completion estimated for November of this year, the Broken Hill Solar Plant is currently under construction and meeting all major project milestones. First Solar has provided engineering, procurement and construction services for both projects, and will provide maintenance support for five years once the solar farms are operational.
These projects are supported by $166.7 million funding from ARENA and $64.9 million from the NSW Government.
Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.