The 53MW Broken Hill Solar Plant in New South Wales has begun generating into the grid, with half of the 53MW solar plant completed.
Four months after the first PV modules were installed on the site near Broken Hill in the state’s west, the $150 million AGL Energy-owned project began generating, with the first 26MW of renewable energy feeding into the National Electricity Market.
AGL executive general manager of group operations, Doug Jackson, described the event as a major milestone for the project that, once completed, would be Australia’s second largest utility-scale solar installation, behind the 102MW Nyngan plant, also in NSW.
AGL has developed the Broken Hill and newly completed 102MW Nyngan solar plants in partnership with First Solar, and with $166.7 million funding support from ARENA and $64.9 million from the NSW government.
Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) CEO Ivor Frischknecht has welcomed the achievement of first generation at Broken Hill, hailing the big solar project as a first of many.
“We are entering a new era of large-scale solar in Australia,” Frischknecht said. “AGL’s twin solar farms are already feeding electricity into the grid and are on track to be fully operational this year.
“The ARENA-supported 56 MW Moree Solar Farm is expected to come on line in 2016 and we anticipate funding at least four new grid-connected projects through (AGL’s) $100 million large-scale solar competitive round, which is now open.”
AGL said it expected the the total of 678,000 solar PV modules to be installed over the next few months, with the plant on track to be fully operational by the end of 2015, at which time it will generate enough electricity to power 17,000 homes.
Jack Curtis, First Solar’s regional manager for Asia Pacific, said the lessons learnt from projects like Broken Hill were “already translating into substantial cost savings” that would ensure utility-scale PV would “play an increasingly prominent and disruptive role in the Australian power generation mix.”