Australia’s largest solar plants officially online

Of the 245 MW of utility-scale solar PV operating Down Under, says First Solar, it has worked on 165 MW. The thin film manufacturer is confident of the market’s solar potential, particularly in the utility-scale sector.

"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," commented regional manager for Asia Pacific, Jack Curtis.

The 102 MW, AU$290 million Nyngan solar PV plant – the country’s largest – has been online since the beginning of last June. In its first three months of operation, it delivered 60,000MWh to Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM). It is owned by AGL Energy Limited.

Meanwhile, the first 26 MW the 53 MW, $150 million Broken Hill solar PV plant, also owned by AGL, began operations last September. The final MWs have now been added, thus drawing to a close the completion of Australia’s two largest solar PV plants.

Commenting at the official opening, AGL MD and CEO, Andy Vesey said, "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."

The NSW government contributed a total of $64.9 million to both the Broken Hill and Nyngan projects, while the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) contributed $166.7 million.

According to the latest figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Australia added 1.02 GW of new solar capacity in 2015. It expects this figure to fall slightly this year, to 1.01 GW.