Solar Energy has Bright Future in Australia
The Australian government today approved the plan to build the southern hemisphere’s largest solar power station in NSW. Australia power company ALG will proceed with the $450 million investment and begin installation of two million photovoltaic panels at the sites.
The solar PV project will be built across two sites in NSW – Nyngan and Broken Hill – and will cover 375 hectares. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2014. The larger of the two plants, with a 102-megawatt capacity, will be in Nyngan, north-west of Dubbo, while a 53-megawatt plant will be built near Broken Hill.
The installations will provide power for more than 50,000 homes and create an estimated 450 jobs in the renewable energy industry. The Nyngan project is scheduled to start in January 2014 and the Broken Hill site will begin construction in July 2014. Both sites should be supplying power to the eastern Australian grid by the end of 2015.
The project is more than 15 times larger than the largest solar farm currently in operation in Australia, and is big by any standards.
“This announcement is a turning point for renewable energy in Australia, and shows how the government working in partnership with industry can capitalize on our potential for clean, cost-competitive energy in this country,” says SEA Chief Executive Kirsten Rose.
The project will source more than half its funds from government assistance. The federal-funded Australian Renewable Energy Agency will provide a $166.7 million grant, while the Education Investment Fund will contribute $40.7 million to assist the University of Queensland and University of NSW develop the technology for deployment elsewhere.
The NSW government will provide $64.9 million in grants, based on milestones being met, with AGL providing the remaining funds of less than $200 million.
U.S.-based First Solar, which has operated the first large-scale solar plant in Australia since last October, will provide engineering and construction services for both projects, using its advanced thin-film PV modules.