US PV manufacturer and developer First Solar is to act as supplier and EPC contractor for what are expected to become Australia’s two largest utility-scale solar farms.
AGL Energy, Australia’s largest PV developer, has reached financial close on the New South Wales projects, which will have a combined capacity of 155MW and generate 360,000MWh of electricity annually.
The first 102MW project will be at Nyngan and the second, of 53MW, at Broken Hill.
First Solar will supply its thin-film modules to the projects, as well as providing EPC services and operations and maintenance support for five years.
“The Nyngan and Broken Hill solar projects will be Australia's largest utility-scale solar projects, respectively, and demonstrate that utility-scale solar is a proven, bankable source of power generation in Australia today,” said Jack Curtis, First Solar's vice president of business development for Asia Pacific. “These projects will play an important part in the growing acceptance of utility-scale solar PV, and we applaud the commonwealth government and the NSW government for their vision and commitment to the sector.”
Michael Fraser, AGL's managing director, said “We are eager to get this nationally significant project underway, and together we will provide the experience and commercial stability to help ensure the successful construction of the two solar plants.”
Construction at Nyngan starts in January 2014, and is scheduled to be commercially operational by mid 2015. Broken Hill construction is starting July 2014, and is expected to be in commercial operation by the end of 2015.
The projects are valued at AUS$450 million – with AUS$64.9 million from New South Wales government, andAUS$166.7 million support from Commonwealth Government funding, through the Australian Renewable Agency (ARENA). ARENA began in 2011 to increase competitiveness in renewable energy, with nearly AUS$3 billion to invest in renewable projects in Australia.
First Solar is hoping to create 300 construction jobs in Nyngan and 150 in Broken Hill.