First Solar commenced construction of Australia’s largest utility-scale solar project, a 250 hectare solar plant in Nyngan, New South Wales (NSW). Less than six months after AGL Energy Limited achieved financial close for project, First Solar broke ground on the installation of approximately 1,350,000 advanced thin-film PV modules. Once installed, First Solar’s modules will generate clean, renewable energy with no emissions, waste or water consumption during operation.
In addition to construction, First Solar is also providing engineering and procurement services for the project and will provide maintenance services for a period of five years post commissioning. Expected to be completed in mid-2015, the project will produce 102 MWAC – enough electricity to power more than 33,000 average NSW homes. The solar energy supplied will abate more than 203,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) every year, the equivalent of taking more than 53,000 cars off Australia’s roads.
“Breaking ground at the Nyngan solar project is a significant milestone for the advancement of Australia’s utility-scale solar industry,” said Jack Curtis, First Solar’s Vice President of Business Development for Asia Pacific. “Each project that First Solar constructs builds acceptance of and confidence in utility-scale solar as an effective source of power generation in Australia. As the Nyngan project develops, we look forward to seeing its impact, not only in generating important local job opportunities, but also in strengthening the solar industry’s position within Australia’s energy mix.”
First Solar expects to create an estimated 300 direct construction jobs during the building of the Nyngan solar plant. Additionally, the company is engaging with a number of local contractors and will make announcements as contracts are issued. In total, the Nyngan solar project is expected to add nearly 2 per cent to the gross regional product of the community.
The Nyngan solar plant is the first of two utility-scale solar projects to have received funding by the Commonwealth Government through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the NSW Government. First Solar expects to commence construction of the second project in Broken Hill, NSW, in mid-2014.