Australia’s largest PV power plant comes online

While the future of Australia’s utility-scale PV future remains clouded, its largest plant has now received the go ahead to feed its full capacity of solar power into the grid. The Nyngan Solar Plant has had a somewhat troubled history, however its completion marks a major milestone in the solar market Down Under.

"This is a great achievement for the largest utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) plant ever built in Australia," said Adam Mackett from Nyngan’s owner AGL. "We have received confirmation from both AEMO [Australian Energy Market Operator] and [local distributor] EE to increase generation to full capacity of 102 MW."

Given the uncertainty regarding Australia’s Renewable Energy Target, publically funded body, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency stepped in to assist in finacing the project.

"This new Australian record sends a strong signal to the energy industry that utility-scale solar PV plants can be constructed on time and on budget," said Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) CEO Ivor Frischknecht. He added the project will help instill market confidence in large scale PV.

First Solar supplied modules and provided EPC services for Nyngan. Asia Pacific regional Jack Curtis said that the project demonstrates how big PV projects can be, "seamlessly integrated into Australia’s electricity grid."

The Nyngan array will undergo final commissioning and testing throughout the month, becoming fully operational in July.

CEFC supports regional PV deployment

Today’s Nygnan announcement comes on the same day that Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) announced a new program to roll out a program to deploy solar technology, particularly in regional and rural Australia, aimed at bringing down emissions and energy costs.

The AUD$120 million (US$92.4 million) program aims to assist rural businesses to deploy solar and update agricultural equipment and vehicle fleets.

CEFC head Oliver Yates said that it is now more important than ever for Australian businesses to reduce energy costs by deploying green technology.

"Cutting energy costs has never been more important for Australian businesses. Australia spends more than $120 billion a year on energy – that’s a 67% increase over 10 years. With the right equipment, businesses can lower energy and operating costs, cut heating, cooling and lighting bills and even create energy from waste," said Yates.

Given Australia’s vast size, many farms, pastoral operations, indigenous communites and rural industries are expensive to service using conventional electricity networks.

Furthermore, many more communities or households are offgrid, often relying on expensive and unreliable diesel generation. Given this backdrop, the deployment of PV+storage technology is becoming increasingly common, delivering both cost savings and enhanced reliability.