Since achieving full generation in June 2015, the Nyngan Solar Plant has generated 60,000 MWh of renewable energy — 102 MW of which have been sent into the National Electricity Market.
Said to be the largest solar power plant in the Southern Hemisphere, the project is the result of a partnership between AGL Energy and First Solar. It is expected to produce around 230,000 MWh of electricity annually — enough to meet the needs of approximately 33,000 NSW homes.
The CEO of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), Ivor Frischknecht, said the $290 million plant was successfully delivered on time and on budget. It has involved the installation of 1.36 million solar PV modules and has provided economic benefits for the Nyngan community, with more than 250 people employed on-site during the peak of construction.
The project has also seen the construction of a ‘twin’ solar plant at Broken Hill, which will soon begin operation. Total capital expenditure for both the Nyngan and Broken Hill Solar Plant is approximately $440 million. “AGL’s Solar Project at Nyngan and Broken Hill represents a big investment by the company and also by ARENA,” Frischknecht said. “It’s already achieving one of ARENA’s key aims of increasing the amount of renewable energy in Australia. “And the knowledge gained from its successful launch and ongoing operations will lead to further improvements in technology and reductions in costs for the sector.”
Maybe these projects do start to indicate that Australia can deliver some serious solar energy projects for the country. So far, while some have got funding it has been a slow journey in a country with strong credentials for using solar power - distributed, smaller scale and reliable for rural and remote use, with the exception of night time or poor solar conditions options.
There are a lot of older coal generation facilities way past their economic lifetime, and likely to be replaced over the next decade. Maybe more solar plants will deliver low carbon and improved facilities for better distributed energy production with stored energy systems also included. I do wonder about the distribution system, however.
Lets hope there are more successes to come.
[ partially sourced from Sustainability Matters newsletter 15 September]