Australia's largest PV plant to begin feeding grid

Australia’s Nyngan solar plant – a humongous 102 MW PV project set in the Outback of New South Wales – will begin feeding the grid next week as the first portion of the plant comes online*.

Beginning at 25 MW, the First Solar-developed operation will be fully connected at 102 MW by July, making it the largest single PV installation in the Southern Hemisphere, at least until a 141 MW solar plant in Chile – also being developed by First Solar – is connected later this year.

First Solar has partnered on the Nyngan project with local renewable energy developer AGL Energy Ltd. Construction of the US$220 million project began last January, and the millionth solar panel was installed just last week – on budget and on schedule.

"What was really constraining the large-scale solar market was the fact that it just hadn’t been done before, so there was a lot of misconception around the execution and cost challenges," said First Solar’s Asia-Pacific manager Jack Curtis. "It can only get more efficient."

First Solar and AGL are also collaborating on another large-scale PV project in New South Wales – a 53 MW solar plant in Broken Hill, a little to the west of the Nyngan project. Combined, these two solar plants are expected to cost AUD$440 million ($337 million), of which around 50% funding is coming from the Australian and state government.

Once finalized, both projects will generate enough clean solar energy to power 50,000 New South Wales households, and will add to the projected 4.1 GW of large-scale solar PV capacity forecast for installation in Australia between now and 2021.

* Article updated at 10.53 Friday March 13. Story originally reported that the plant had begun feeding the grid, when in fact it is expected to do so from next week.