Almost 350,000 solar panels are now supplying electricity to the National Electricity Market with the first section of AGL and First Solar’s $290 million Nyngan Solar Plant in western NSW going online today (Monday).
The 25 megawatts of currently operational capacity will be boosted to 102MW on completion of the plant over the next three months, which is expected to power 33,000 homes a year.
Environment minister Rob Stokes said the government had a commitment to renewable energy.
“The Baird Government wants NSW to lead the nation in clean energy development, and this $64.9 million investment is a strong demonstration of our dedication to that goal,” he said.
“There are an estimated 13,000 jobs supported by renewable energy in NSW, mostly in regional areas. Renewable energy generation in NSW has doubled over the last decade and has driven $8 billion of investment, predominantly in regional areas. The development of projects in regional NSW has the potential to provide traditional farming communities with alternative income streams that are not rainfall dependent.”
First Solar Asia-Pacific regional manager Jack Curtis said first generation from the plant was an important milestone in the power sector’s adoption of utility-scale solar.
“We commend AGL for its first-mover commitment to the sector, with the fantastic support from both ARENA and the NSW Government,” said Mr Curtis.
Australian Renewable Energy Agency chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said the project would pave the way for more large-scale solar in Australia.
“The AGL solar project will make similar plants more competitive in Australia by helping to break down financial, regulatory and technical barriers,” he said. “In addition to creating jobs, boosting skills and contributing to local communities, the development of utility scale solar is vital to a diverse energy future.”
During the peak of construction more than 250 people were employed on site. Business and residents in the Nyngan area and wider Orana region have benefited from local procurement and employment throughout construction.
The plant is part of the AGL solar project, which is supported by $166.7 million from ARENA and $64.9 million from the NSW Government. It will see new solar plants constructed in Nyngan and Broken Hill with a combined generation capacity of up to 155MW.