In what could be the last few weeks of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), some of its largest investments are now beginning to take shape.
Australia’s largest solar power project, with a generation capacity of 102 MW, received its first shipment of solar photovoltaic modules. ARENA has invested about A$167 million in the project while the New South Wales government has provided about A$65 million. The overall project also consists of a 53 MW capacity plant near the bigger plant.
The complete project would entail an investment of A$440 million, and will be spread over 250 hectare. Late last month, the first of the 1.35 million thin-film solar photovoltaic panels being supplied by First Solar were installed at the project site.
The two projects at Nyngan (102 MW) and Broken Hill (53 MW) will be able to generate about 360,000 MWh electricity every year, enough to power over 50,000 homes in New South Wales. Construction on the Nyngan project began in January 2014, and is expected to be completed by June 2015,, whereas construction for the Broken Hill project began in July 2014 and is expected to be finished by December 2015.
The two projects would together offset greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 312,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. The construction and operation of the projects would also create up to 450 direct jobs.
AGL will develop, own, and manage the projects. First Solar will provide AGL with engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services, and will also maintain the plants for five years after commercial operation starts. The electricity produced by the projects will be sold under a power purchase agreement to AGL Hydro Partnership, a wholly owned subsidiary of AGL.
These projects add to the impressive renewable energy portfolio of AGL. The company has already invested A$3 billion in renewable energy sources and gets about 30% of its electricity from renewable energy projects. The company jointly owns the largest wind energy farm in the Southern Hemisphere – the 420 MW Macarthur Wind Farm.