Australia’s largest utility-scale solar photovoltaic power plants – AGL Energy Limited’s Nyngan and Broken Hill solar farms in western New South Wales – were officially opened during a ceremony at the Nyngan plant today.
AGL managing director and CEO Andy Vesey accompanied the Federal Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt at the ceremony along with project partner representatives: NSW Minister for Industry Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts; Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton MP; Member for Barwon Kevin Humphries MP; Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) acting CEO Ian Kay; First Solar’s Asia-Pacific Regional Manager Jack Curtis; and Bogan Shire Council Mayor Ray Donald.
“Developing two solar plants of the magnitude of Nyngan at 102MW and Broken Hill at 53MW is a major accomplishment and signals the birth of large-scale solar in Australia. We are proud to have achieved this on time and on budget,” Mr Vesey said.
“The two plants add to AGL’s credentials as Australia’s largest non-government owner, operator and developer of renewable energy generation with more than 1900MW of renewable capacity currently in operation.”
Since becoming operational in July (Nyngan) and December (Broken Hill) 2015, both plants combined have generated more than 200,000MWh of renewable energy; enough to power around 34,000 average Australian homes. Annually, the two plants combined will produce approximately 360,000MWh of renewable energy, powering more than 50,000 average homes.
Mr Vesey acknowledged Australia must continue to build large-scale renewables to reduce emissions and said, “achieving this will require a sustainable energy market and the resolution of two key barriers – energy market design and the closure of older, high-emitting power plants.”
ARENA’s acting CEO Ian Kay congratulated AGL and First Solar on the significant milestone, noting it was the result of hard work and commitment over many years.
“In the future, this historic achievement will mark the moment big solar started to become a major contributor to Australia’s energy supply. 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,” Mr Kay 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,” First Solar regional manager for Asia Pacific Jack Curtis added.