Southern Hemisphere’s largest solar PV plant hits major milestone


Representatives from ARENA, AGL and First Solar joined Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts and NSW Minister for the Environment Mark Speakman at the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) plant in the Southern Hemisphere in Nyngan, NSW, to celebrate the installation of the plant’s final solar panel.

Solar panels installed at Nyngan Image credit:
Solar panels installed at Nyngan
Image credit:

The Nyngan solar PV plant is part of the $440 million AGL solar project, which is supported by $166.7 million from ARENA and $64.9 million from the NSW Government.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht congratulated AGL and First Solar on the project’s progress, saying it paved the way for more utility-scale solar plants to be built in Australia and bring the country a step closer to cost competitive large-scale solar PV.

“A total of 1.36 million solar panels have been successfully installed at the Nyngan site, which is now supplying 50MW of renewable energy to the national electricity market. When fully operational, the plant will produce 102MW peak output. ARENA has been working with AGL and First Solar during the planning and construction stages to ensure the energy industry can benefit from their experiences,” Mr Frischknecht said in a press release.

“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.”

AGL Managing Director and CEO Andy Vesey said the Nyngan Solar Plant was an impressive facility worthy of international praise.

“Low-emission technology like our Nyngan Solar Plant is an important part of AGL’s journey towards a decarbonised electricity generation sector. We are pleased to be adding to AGL’s and Australia’s portfolio of renewable energy generation and assets,” Mr Vesey said.

First Solar’s Regional Manager for Asia Pacific Jack Curtis said the project would help advance the commercialisation of large-scale solar PV in Australia.

“First Solar’s modules have dramatically improved in efficiency in recent years and this project demonstrates the increasing commercial competitiveness of our technology. 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,” Mr Curtis said.

Mr Frischknecht said the AGL solar project was progressing as planned, with the 102MW Nyngan plant scheduled for completion in mid-2015 and the 53MW Broken Hill plant expected to be fully operational by the end of 2015.

“In addition to today’s impressive milestone, the Broken Hill plant is also well underway with ground posts installed, pallets of solar panels arriving and newly constructed network components ready to supply renewable energy into the grid,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“The Broken Hill plant will benefit from the learnings gained in developing and constructing Nyngan.”