Construction has commenced on the largest utility-scale solar plant ever to be built in Australia.
In a statement released on Tuesday, energy provider AGL Energy Limited said head contractor First Solar Inc. said work had commenced on the $300 million Nyngan Solar Plant in central New South Wales.
Set to become the largest solar plant anywhere in Australia, the 250 hectare site will feature more than 1,350,000 solar photovoltaic (PV) modules and will produce sufficient levels of energy to power 33,000 average homes throughout the state, delivering annualised savings in carbon dioxide emissions of around 203,000 tonnes.
It is the first of two large-scale PV projects the energy provider will undertake with joint funding from the Australian government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the New South Wales government, the other being the Broken Hill Power Plant which is expected to start around mid-year and be operational by the end of next year.
As with Nyngan, First Solar will build the Broken Hill plant and will manage engineering and procurement for both projects.
Jack Curtis, First Solar vice president of business development for Asia Pacific, welcomed the start of the project, which he described as a significant milestone in terms of the development of utility-scale solar energy around the country.
Curtis said each new project in this area further cements utility-scale solar as a source of power generation.
“As the Nyngan project develops, we look forward to seeing its impact, not only in generating important local job opportunities, but also in strengthening the solar industry’s position within Australia’s energy mix,” he said.
The Nyngan plant is scheduled for completion in June 2015. Around 300 direct jobs will be created during construction, with the majority of workers set to be housed in an accommodation camp being built in Nyngan.