|First Solar completes Australia’s largest
utility-scale solar plants
Solar cements a leading position in Australia’s energy mix
Sydney, Australia, January 20, 2016 – First Solar today celebrates the opening of Australia’s largest utility-scale solar plants – both located in New South Wales (NSW).
While the environmental benefits of utility-scale solar are well known in Australia, the substantial and continual improvement in the cost and performance of new solar power is often overlooked.
Today’s opening of the 155MW Nyngan and Broken Hill solar plants reflects the positive future of utility-scale solar in Australia. Today there is a total of 245MW1 of utility-scale solar operating in Australia, of which First Solar has built 165MW.
Jack Curtis, First Solar’s Regional Manager for Asia Pacific believes Australia is poised to take advantage of low-cost utility‐scale solar, said “In many parts of the world, solar energy is already cost-competitive with conventional generation. Considering the substantial and sustained cost reductions in the solar industry and the lessons learnt at projects like Nyngan and Broken Hill, it is inevitable that utility-scale solar projects in Australia will compete on an unsubsidised basis, in the near future.”
With the completion of both the Nyngan and Broken Hill Solar Plants, First Solar cements its position as Australia’s leading utility‐scale PV solutions provider. Both plants have positively impacted the regional economy, with First Solar working with regional suppliers and investing in training to ensure best practice knowledge sharing.
“First Solar has successfully established a low-cost local Australian supply chain for key equipment, driving down the cost of delivery of future Australian solar projects,” said Mr Curtis. “As ageing coal power plants are decommissioned, there is an enormous potential for renewable energy – and utility‐scale PV in particular – to fill the void and provide clean and affordable electricity.”
To celebrate the opening today, First Solar was joined at the Nyngan Solar Plant by the project owner, AGL Energy Limited, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), subcontractors, community members and government officials, including: the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Federal Minister for the Environment; the Hon. Anthony Roberts, NSW Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy; Mark Coulton, Federal Member for Parkes; and Ray Donald, Bogan Shire Council Mayor.
According to AGL Managing Director and CEO Andy Vesey, “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 Commonwealth Government funding through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) as well as an additional $64.9 million in funding from the NSW Government. The total project cost was approximately $440 million.
ARENA’s Acting CEO Ian Kay congratulated AGL and First Solar on the significant milestone, noting 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. The AGL plants, along with other ARENA-supported large-scale solar projects currently underway and the $100 million funding round, are part of ARENA’s efforts to make large-scale solar in Australia more competitive with other sources of energy generation. Ultimately, this momentum will allow us to capitalise on Australia’s world‐leading solar resource and speed up the transition to renewable energy for our electricity needs.”
Supplying over two million of its advanced thin‐film PV modules for the projects, First Solar also provided
engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services and will provide maintenance support for a period of
five years now the plants are operational.