The largest solar projects in Australia have been completed

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AGL Energy and First Solar have successfully completed the two largest solar photovoltaic (PV) plants at Nyngan and Broken Hill.

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Both solar plants are located in the western part of New South Wales (NSW) and were supported with a $166.7 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and 4.9 million from the NSW state government.

The 102 MW Nyngan and the 53 MW Broken Hill consist of over 2 million panels and are expected to produce around 360,000 MWh of electricity annually, which is enough to power over 50,000 average Aussie homes.

ARENA’s Ian Kay congratulated AGL and First Solar on the significant milestone.

“In the future, this historic achievement will mark the moment big solar started to become a major contributor to Australia’s energy supply. It comes less than a week after ARENA released the shortlist of 22 projects invited to progress to the next stage of its $100 million large-scale solar PV competitive round. This new funding has attracted unprecedented interest from the sector and all levels of government, and is set to double the nation’s large-scale solar generation in two years,” Mr Kay said.

“The AGL plants, along with other ARENA-supported large-scale solar projects currently underway and the $100 million funding round, are part of ARENA’s efforts to make large-scale solar in Australia more competitive with other sources of energy generation. Ultimately, this momentum will allow us to capitalise on Australia’s world-leading solar resource and speed up the transition to renewable energy for our electricity needs.”

Yesterday, Mr Kay was joined by AGL Managing Director and CEO Andy Vesey, Federal Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt, NSW Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts, Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton, First Solar’s Asia-Pacific Regional Manager Jack Curtis, Bogan Shire Council Mayor Ray Donald and other community representatives at the Nyngan site to mark the special occasion.

“Our two plants signal the birth of large-scale solar in Australia and add to AGL’s record of having built approximately $2 billion of renewable generation in the last decade. We are heading toward a carbon constrained future and AGL wants to take a leadership position in making that transition,” Mr Vesey said.

“In many parts of the world, solar energy is already cost-competitive with conventional generation. Considering the substantial and sustained cost reductions in the solar industry and the lessons learnt at projects like Nyngan and Broken Hill, it is inevitable that utility-scale solar projects in Australia will compete on an unsubsidised basis, in the near future,” added Mr Curtis.

“First Solar has successfully established a low-cost local Australian supply chain for key equipment, driving down the cost of delivery of future Australian solar projects. As ageing coal power plants are decommissioned, there is an enormous potential for renewable energy – and utility-scale PV in particular – to fill the void and provide clean and affordable electricity.”