Australia's largest solar plant completed

With electricity prices rising, Australia has turned to one of the country's most plentiful resources - sunlight. The largest utility-scale solar power plant in the Southern Hemisphere has finally been completed, with the last of the panels installed for the opening on April 17.

Members of AGL Energy and US-based developer First Solar and Ministers of the NSW Government were on hand to celebrate the occasion. The 1.36 million solar panels that make up the Nyngan Solar Plant in Western NSW are now ready to supply 50 megawatt (MW) of sustainable energy throughout the country, having already started generating 25MW of clean electricity at the end of March. Once at full capacity, the plant will provide 102MW to the national grid.

A 53MW sister plant in Broken Hill will also come online in coming months. According to AGL, the combined projects will generate around 360,000 megawatt hours of electricity, which will be enough to power over 50,000 homes in New South Wales. The two schemes have been buoyed by government support. ARENA has invested $166.7 million into the two plants, assisted by an additional $64.9 million from the NSW state government.

Another solar farm, operated by Fotowatio Renewable Ventures at Moree, has also been under construction since late 2014. AGL Managing Director and CEO Andy Vesey said these ventures set the groundwork for further sustainable energy solutions in Australia. 

"Low-emission technology like our Nyngan Solar Plant is an important part of AGL's journey towards a decarbonised electricity generation sector," Mr Vesey said in an April 17 release. 

"We are pleased to be adding to AGL's and Australia's portfolio of renewable energy generation and assets." 

Solar farms should help and encourage electricity suppliers to bring prices down, while ensuring New South Wales remains squarely on the renewable energy map.

Posted by Richard West