AGL and First Solar’s large-scale solar PV plants in Broken Hill and Nyngan have been officially launched this week, doubling the amount of large-scale solar operating in Australia.

The projects combined mean more than two million extra solar panels are now delivering energy into the National Electricity Market.

The projects were made possible with $166.7 million support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

ARENA’s acting chief executive Ian Kay congratulated AGL and First Solar on the significant milestone, saying it was the result of hard work and commitment over many years.

“In the future, this historic achievement will mark the moment big solar started to become a major contributor to Australia’s energy supply,” Mr Kay said.

“It comes less than a week after ARENA released the shortlist of 22 projects invited to progress to the next stage of its $100 million large-scale solar PV competitive round.

“This new funding has attracted unprecedented interest from the sector and all levels of government, and is set to double the nation’s large-scale solar generation in two years.”

The 102 MW Nyngan and 53 MW Broken Hill Solar Plants together produce approximately 360,000 MWh of renewable energy annually, enough to power more than 50,000 average Australian homes.

Mr Kay said AGL and First Solar’s trail-blazing efforts at Nyngan and Broken Hill had delivered valuable knowledge about the challenges involved with designing, constructing and commissioning projects of this scale.

“The lessons learned during Nyngan’s construction were immediately applied at Broken Hill, reducing construction times. ARENA looks forward to the next cohort of projects building on this success and knowledge to lower costs and speed up development even further.”

The news was welcomed by the Clean Energy Council, which said the projects made it easier for others to follow.

“Australia has some of the most intense sunshine in the world, and there is obviously an incredibly bright future for large-scale solar in this country,” Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said.