Construction underway for Australia's largest solar power station

AGL Energy Limited has begun to construct the Nyngan Solar Plant, which is set to be the largest solar power station on Australian soil.

It is forecast to deliver 102 megawatts of renewable power to the grid, enough to power around 33,000 average homes in New South Wales, according to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) Chief Executive Ivor Frischnecht. 

Spanning 250 hectares, this plant will be the biggest in Australia and will also provide 300 construction jobs to the industry.

Located in New South Wales, the plant will also help those in the industry attain some valuable know-how when it comes to the deployment of large-scale solar photo voltaic (PV) systems.

In fact, two large-scale plants are in the works. The second is planned for Broken Hill in New South Wales. They will have a combined output of 155 megawatts - a significant amount for electricity suppliers in the area.

Construction on the Broken Hill plant is expected to begin in the middle of the year and it should be operational by the end of 2015.

The Nyngan plant should be up and running by June 2015.

Engineering and construction services will be provided by First Solar, with IXL group providing the large scale framing system.

Mr Frischknecht said the plans to share knowledge across the board will help to pave the way for future solar energy plants to be built by improving investor confidence and reducing the risk and costs that will be an integral part of any future projects.

For those looking to reduce their electricity prices, the solar systems will also provide academic research infrastructure that will help local universities  - the University of Queensland and the University of New South Wales - to further study solar power and improve the methods where it is used.

The University of New South Wales plans to develop new energy modelling techniques as a result, and these should assist solar power stations design and integrate their output into the electricity grid.

Around 203,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced by the solar power unit, which will cost $300 million to construct.

How do solar power plants work?

Harnessing the power of the sun, these machines generate power by using mirrors that concentrate the sun's energy and a turbine to generate power.

These plants are divided into two parts. One collects solar energy and converts it into heat. The second part converts the heat energy into electricity.

As Australia has high sunshine levels, this technology is expected to take off in the country.

Posted by Liam Tunney