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Construction of AGL’s Nyngan solar flagship plant set to begin

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Construction of what will be the largest solar PV plant in the Southern Hemisphere – AGL Energy’s $300 million, 102MW Nyngan Solar Plant in central NSW – is set to begin in January 2014, the company has announced.

The start date for the project was announced on Monday, less than two weeks after First Solar – who is building the PV plant – appointed Australian manufacturing company IXL Group to supply major structural components for the project.

Nyngan Solar Plant had its inception in the federal government’s Solar Flagships program, a renewables scheme created under the first Rudd regime to foster the development of utility-scale solar projects.

After some years and a good deal of trouble securing the private financial backing necessary to gain access to the government funds, AGL managed to bridge the gap with a little help from the NSW Government ($64.9 million), the Education Infrastructure Fund($40 million), and the federal government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency, or ARENA ($166.7 million).

Now, it is expected to be completed in June 2015, at which time its more than 1,350,000 solar PV modules will generate around 230,000 MW hours of electricity a year – the equivalent of supplying energy to more than 33,000 average New South Wales homes, says AGL.

“Right now we’re looking at engaging local contractors to build necessary fencing at the site and a major intersection and road works. We hope to have those contractors on board before Christmas,” said AGL’s Manager Power Development, Adam Mackett.

“We’re also committed to community engagement and support throughout the life of the project and are proud to announce we will again be the major sponsor of the AGL Nyngan Ag Expo in August 2014.”

Nyngan solar plant will be complemented by AGL’s second solar plant at Broken Hill, due to commence construction in mid-2014, with an expected completion date of November 2015.

Together the two solar plants will cover an area equivalent to Sydney’s CBD and North Sydney with PV modules, and will deliver a total capacity of 155MW of energy for NSW.

“It is now full-steam ahead for both projects with Nyngan on the eve of construction. It’s an exciting time not just because of the economic benefits to the regions but also the environmental benefits – the savings in CO2 emissions alone will equate to about 82,000 fewer cars on the roads,” said Mr Mackett.”

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