Largest Solar PV Plant In Australia To Go Online In March

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Originally published on RenewEconomy.

ngoyenThe first solar PV plant of more than 100MW to be built in Australia is expected to begin generating electricity next month.

AGL Energy, which is building the 102MW Nyngan solar plant, and the 53MW Broken Hill solar plant, with assistance of funds from the federal and state governments, says the Nyngan plant has had more than half of its solar modules installed, and should commence generating in March.

The plant is by far the biggest in Australia. The only other large scale solar plant in the National Electricity Market is the 20MW Royalla plant in the ACT, built courtesy of the ACT government’s reverse auction system. The Nyngan and Broken Hill plants were built courtesy of the now defunct Solar Flagships program.

Another plant, the 57MW Moree solar plant in NSW, which will be the first large scale plant with solar tracking, will also be built with funds from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. However, there are numerous other large scale projects with planning approval of seeking it, such as the staged 2GW solar PV  project proposed for south west Queensland.

AGL Energy said connection works at Nyngan have been “completed and energised”. This includes the transmission line, switchyard and substation. Structural works (posts, tilts and tables) are nearly complete.

At Broken Hill, the transmission line is still under construction. Civil works have been completed and installation of structural components is progressing. That plant is expected to be fully operational by December.

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Reprinted with permission.

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Giles Parkinson

is the founding editor of, an Australian-based website that provides news and analysis on cleantech, carbon, and climate issues. Giles is based in Sydney and is watching the (slow, but quickening) transformation of Australia's energy grid with great interest.

Giles Parkinson has 596 posts and counting. See all posts by Giles Parkinson

10 thoughts on “Largest Solar PV Plant In Australia To Go Online In March

  • I wonder how solar and other RE systems will fare with the current federal government?
    In Canada we will have the chance to do changes this year (federal election).

  • This facility cost $290 million Australian for 102 megawatts. That’s $2.84 a watt to sell electricity for an average of perhaps 4 cents a kilowatt-hour. The average cost of a typical 5 kilowatt rooftop system without subsidy is $2.30 a watt and the value of electricity consumed from its production averages up around 30 cents a kilowatt-hour. If it is assumed that 50% of the electricity produced is self consumed and the other half exported to the grid for the wholesale price then that very roughly makes rooftop solar about 5 times more cost effective. Utility scale solar can average a higher capacity factor but it does not nearly make up the difference. I don’t know why it was decided to build 102 megawatts of utility scale solar when it would have made much more economic sense to install the panels on roofs instead. We don’t suffer from a shortage of roofspace.

    • Something is pretty strange with the costs there! The worlds best for utility PV was $1.40 per watt last time I heard?

      • We don’t have the world’s best utility PV. About 99% of Australia’s PV is point of use. We don’t really have a utility scale PV industry and thus costs are high. On top of this our wholesale electricity prices would have to be the lowest in the world while our retail prices are among the world’s highest. So we have an environment that is perfect for rooftop solar and problematic for solar farms. The more utility scale solar that is built the lower costs will get, but they won’t go below zero which is what it will have to do to compete with rooftop solar.

      • Deutsche Bank – South of Rome $1.20/watt

        “Yingli chief strategy officer Yiyu Wang said that project costs for its current pipeline of 130MW in utility-scale solar projects in China are about $1.03-$1.05 a watt.”

        “Wang suggested that Yingli would generate a return in the “higher mid teens” for these projects. “

        • That would seem to give a pretty low cost per kWH in the best case. E.g. 20% insolation and 5% finance on $1W installed gives 5c per watt for 1 year and 0.2*24*365 = 1.752kWH which is 5/1.75 = 2.8c/KWh as the lowest possible price.

          Sure that won’t be reached because of maintenance costs etc but is 5% finance realistic?
          Some banks give like 3% for money and the solar farm could last much longer than 20 years. Even if the panels all need to be replaced at 20 years the cost to do that would be far less than rebuilding the whole thing again. If the PPA price increases with inflation then even if tech doesn’t improve that much we should see say 4c/KWh+ inflation PPA by 2020 or so when it is clear the solar farms are not a risky investment.

          • Operational costs for solar for PV solar are low. Less than a penny per watt is a number I commonly see. I would expect financing will be cheap as the market matures. This is going to be a very safe investment.

            Panel life should be well over 30 years with very minimum individual replacement over time. A long term study (25 years?) found that about 2% of all panels needed to be replaced due to connector corrosion and delamination. One would assume delamination would be even less a problem these days.

            BYD is starting to manufacture glass/glass frameless panels. They say they’ve got a very long lasting adhesive/sealant for bonding the two glass plates.

            I don’t think 4 cent PPA (no subsidy) prices are unrealistic for 2020, at least in the SW. Prices could be a penny or two higher in the NE. And solar doesn’t need to build in an inflation factor. Most of the costs are up front, it’s not like they need to factor in rising fuel or high labor costs.

          • Yeah not surprised you agree. Inflation to me means more the decreasing value of money because more is created than increasing cost. CPI inflation to me means constant cost. A wage with CPI increases is a constant wage in terms of what you can do with it. If I was wanting a long term contract I would probably choose lower upfront cost with CPI inflation.

          • I think marketing with a no inflation 20 year contract is a smart move. Utilities at this point in time are looking at PPAs, as I understand it, in terms of long term protection from fuel cost increases and to reduce their cost variability.

            Going into a sale pitch saying “We will sell you X MWh per year at 4 cents. And the price will not increase over the 20 year contract.” might open more eyes than offering a contract at 3.x cents with an inflation factor.

            Lots of predictability in that offer.

            But that’s all a minor point….

  • I’ll bet Prime Minister Abbott is pissing himself in anger.

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