Australia’s biggest solar plant starts generating to the grid

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First 25MW from Nyngan, Australia’s largest solar farm, start feeding into the national grid.

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Nyngan solar farm

The Nyngan solar plant in western New South Wales on Saturday began generating power into the National Electricity Market, with the first of the 25MW completed to date feeding into the Australia’s main grid.

So, far 350,000 solar PV panels have been installed by First Solar, with four times that much to be completed in the coming the months to take its nominated capacity to 102MW.

It is the first of two plants being built by AGL Energy, with the 53MW Broken Hill plant also under construction.

Nyngan is the first solar plant to be visible on the Australian Energy Market Operator’s market, as this graph provided by NEM Watch shows. At 9.35am, it was contributing 22MW into the market. Click here to the see live update.

nyngan 22MW

It is thought that there are several dozen large scale solar projects in planning mode – ranging from several MWs to “mega projects such as a 2GW plan for western Queensland, but most are on hold because of uncertainty about there renewable energy target.

The Nyngan and Broken Hill projects are being supported by funding under the government’s now defunct solar flagships program, with the funds now managed by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. The only other large solar plants being constructed are in the ACT, under the territory’s solar auction process.

AGL’s head of merchant energy, Anthony Fowler, said this is a significant milestone for Australia’s largest utility-scale solar PV plant.

“First generation represents a great achievement for all the project stakeholders. It has required close coordination between local electricity distributor Essential Energy, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), project partner First Solar and AGL to facilitiate this successful milestone,” Mr Fowler said.

The NSW Government, which contributed $64.9 million towards the $290 million plant, said it was strongly committed to the transition to renewable energy through projects such as this.

NSW Environment minister Rob Stokes said there are an estimated 13,000 jobs supported by renewable energy in NSW, mostly in regional areas. “The development of projects in regional NSW has the potential to provide traditional farming communities with alternative income streams that are not rainfall dependent,” Stokes said.

Jack Curtis, First Solar’s Asia-Pacific regional manager said the first generation at Nyngan represents an important milestone, especially as it relates to the broader power sector’s adoption of utility-scale solar as a meaningful contributor to Australia’s generation mix.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht congratulated AGL on the achievement and said the project is paving the way for more large-scale solar plants to be built in Australia.

“AGL’s solar project will help bring down the cost of similar plants, making them more competitive. In addition to creating jobs, boosting skills and contributing to local communities, the development of utility-scale solar is vital to a diverse energy future,”  Frischknecht said.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 4.59.14 pm copyIt is thought that there are several dozen large scale solar projects in planning mode – ranging from several MWs to “mega projects such as a 2GW plan for western Queensland, but most are on hold because of uncertainty about there renewable energy targe.

For the moment though we have, as Paul McArdle from NEM-Watch put it – a sliver of orange (big solar) in a sea of brown, black and red.

 

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9 Comments
  1. Alan S 4 years ago

    I don’t have any figures to contradict the NemWatch data for South Australia but I’m surprised that generation from brown coal should be higher than from wind. Wind overall is responsible for the part timing of the two brown coal stations at Port Augusta. Perhaps yesterday was just a fairly still day up north.

    • Paul McArdle 4 years ago

      Sorry Alan

      There are no figures to contradict – the data is what it is.

      You note “wind overall is responsible for the part timing of the two brown coal stations at Port Augusta”. Wind is a factor, but solely attributing what Alinta is doing at Northern (Playford has not run since mid 2012) is overly simplistic.

      Your comment sums up one of the reasons why we’re happy to collaborate with RenewEconomy as we are – because it helps to make objective data more broadly available (and understandable) to inform debate and discussion about some big questions facing Australia in terms of the intersection of energy policy and emissions policy – and striking a balance between the three legs of the stool – cost, security of supply, and cleanliness.

      Hence I am very keen that people keep a close watch on the widget as days and weeks unfold, in order that they can more clearly see what’s actually happening in the NEM.

      Paul

  2. Jane Nicholas 4 years ago

    This is only just happening in a country with as much sunshine as Australia?!

  3. greenjenny 4 years ago

    How long until we get to see the WA generation data added to this widget?

    • JeffJL 4 years ago

      If you want the WA data go to http://www.imowa.com.au

      It is on a different grid so it is unlikely to be put on the same chart

      • greenjenny 4 years ago

        I thought I saw something a while back suggesting that WAs SWIS was going to be added into the widget. I realise this is available from imowa but it would be nice to see it alongside the other states in real-time. We often feel rather left out when the not quite national NEM is being discussed.

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