AGL’s new solar plant in Broken Hill (NSW) has been completed and is now in operation.

The last panel of the 677,760 solar photovoltaic (PV) modules was installed on Monday 12 October. The solar plant is now the second largest in Australia, behind its sister solar plant in Nyngan.

AGL has confirmed the plant has achieved full capacity, sendings 53 MW of renewable energy into the National Electricity Market.

AGL delivered the project along with the 102 MW Nyngan solar plant in partnership with the NSW Government, the Federal Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the Broken Hill City Council and local community as well as project partner, First Solar.

Acting ARENA CEO, Ian Kay, congratulated AGL and First Solar on the milestone.

“There is a real sense of momentum driving large-scale solar in Australia today. The Broken Hill and Nyngan solar plants are already supplying power to Australian homes and we now have $350 million available through ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which will further accelerate growth in the sector,” Mr Kay said.

“Large-scale solar has a vital role to play in Australia’s energy mix. ARENA’s $100 million large-scale solar round is well positioned to harness our world-class solar resource and double the capacity of our nation’s large-scale solar by encouraging investment, reducing finance costs and building robust supply chains.

AGL Executive General Manager Group Operations, Doug Jackson, said the team has been working very closely with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and local network service provider TransGrid during testing and commissioning of the plant to enable 100 percent generation.

“With Broken Hill being the sister solar plant to Nyngan it benefited from lessons learned which has enabled the commissioning phase to be compressed. We are still progressing final commissioning and testing with the aim of being fully operational by early December,” said Mr Jackson.

The Broken Hill solar plant will produce enough renewable energy to power 17,000 homes every year and is part of AGL’s pathway to the decarbonisation of its electricity generation fleet by 2050.

According to Federal Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, “This Government is investing in renewable innovation and technology to reduce emissions and reduce electricity prices.

“Through projects like this one, we are helping Australians do their bit for the environment without increasing the cost of living for families. The two AGL Solar Projects will power 50,000 Australian households with renewable energy.”

NSW Environment Minister, Mark Speakman, said this is great news for the people of Broken Hill and the wider NSW community.

“I congratulate AGL on achieving the first generation from this plant and I am particularly pleased as this is the culmination of many years’ work. We’ve created a new era for large-scale solar energy in the Southern Hemisphere and intend to capitalise on this momentum.”

First Solar’s Senior Director of Operation and Maintenance, Frank Teofilo, said that his onsite and support teams are already in place to take on the ongoing maintenance of the Solar Plant once commissioning is complete.

“The Broken Hill Power Plant will add to the over 200 MW of PV plants First Solar has under operation and maintenance (O&M) in Australia and over 4 GW worldwide. The announcement of full generation is an exciting milestone and as we transition to the operations phase of the project, First Solar will seek to maximise the plant’s energy production and availability,” said Mr Teofilo.

To date $15 million has been injected into the local Broken Hill community for direct construction activities as well as indirectly through workers purchasing accommodation, food, petrol and other supplies locally.

Total capital expenditure for the two projects is approximately $440 million, with $166.7 million being provided by the ARENA and $64.9 million from the NSW Government.

Jessica Dickers

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