First Solar recently marked the official opening of two utility-scale solar projects totaling 155 MW in Australia. Located in New South Wales, the 102 MW Nyngan and 53 MW Broken Hill facilities are Australia’s largest utility-scale solar projects to date, according to the company.
First Solar supplied engineering, procurement and construction services, as well as over 2 million of its thin-film PV modules, for the projects. Now that the plants are operational, company will also provide maintenance support for five years.
AGL Energy Ltd. owns the two projects, and the company’s managing director and CEO, Andy Vesey, says, “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 projects were supported by $166.7 million of federal funding through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, as well as an additional $64.9 million in funding from the New South Wales government. The total project cost was approximately $440 million, according to First Solar.
Jack Curtis, First Solar’s regional manager for Asia Pacific, believes Australia is poised to take advantage of utility-scale solar.
“In many parts of the world, solar energy is already cost‐competitive with conventional generation,” says Curtis. “Considering the substantial and sustained cost reductions in the solar industry and the lessons learned at projects like Nyngan and Broken Hill, it is inevitable that utility-scale solar projects in Australia will compete on an unsubsidized basis, in the near future.”