AGL Energy’s Broken Hill Solar Plant generates power for the first time


The second largest solar photovoltaic (PV) plant in Australia – AGL’s Broken Hill solar plant in western New South Wales – has started feeding renewable energy into the National Electricity Market for the first time.

Image credit: ARENA website
Image credit: ARENA website

The $150 million plant is on track to be fully operational by the end of this year; the 26 MW generated now is almost half of the total capacity the plant can produce once it is fully online.

AGL Executive General Manager Group Operations, Doug Jackson, said this is a major milestone for the plant.

“We are very pleased to have achieved first generation which requires a lot of testing and coordination from multiple project partners. We have worked closely with the local network services provider, TransGrid, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and project partner First Solar to ensure generation was successful. Once fully operational the Broken Hill plant will produce enough renewable energy to power 17,000 homes annually,” Mr Jackson said.

Located five kilometres southwest of Broken Hill on the Barrier Highway, the plant will have a capacity of 53MW and will include 678,000 PV modules.

Image credit:
Image credit:

“We are entering a new era of large-scale solar in Australia. AGL’s twin solar farms are already feeding electricity into the grid and are on track to be fully operational this year. The ARENA-supported 56 MW Moree Solar Farm is expected to come on line in 2016 and we anticipate funding at least four new grid-connected projects through our $100 million large-scale solar competitive round, which is now open,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht.

AGL is constructing the Broken Hill Solar Plant and the newly completed 102 MW Nyngan Solar Plant with $166.7 million funding support from ARENA and $64.9 million from the NSW Government, and in partnership with First Solar, local councils, and local communities.

NSW Minister for Industry Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts said AGL’s milestone at Broken Hill reinforced NSW’s position as the nation’s leader in solar power.

“Together with its facility at Nyngan, AGL has developed the two largest solar farms in the southern hemisphere here in NSW – valuable assets to our State’s power industry and a sign of our commitment to grow a clean and diverse energy supply. NSW is leading Australia in supporting the clean energy sector, which contributes to lower energy costs and provides employment and investment particularly in regional communities,” Mr Roberts said.

“We are proud to demonstrate once again that First Solar can execute quality PV projects on budget and on schedule. The Broken Hill Solar Plant is First Solar’s fifth successive Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) project in Australia, making us Australia’s most experienced utility-scale PV EPC contractor. The lessons learnt from projects such as the Broken Hill Solar Plant are already translating into substantial cost savings that will ensure utility-scale PV will play an increasingly prominent and disruptive role in the Australian power generation mix,” added Jack Curtis, First Solar’s Regional Manager for Asia Pacific.