The completion marks a watershed moment for big solar in Australia.
Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said the landmark projects will make it easier for others to follow.
“The first time you build a new technology on a large scale such as this, a whole host of challenges and opportunities become apparent. Trail-blazing projects like AGL’s at Broken Hill and Nyngan make building the next generation of solar power plants cheaper and more efficient, and that’s great for the entire industry,” Mr Thornton said.
The construction of the two plants was made possible due to $166.7 million support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). ARENA acting Chief Executive Ian Kay congratulated project proponents AGL and First Solar on the significant milestone, noting it was the result of many years’ hard work and commitment.
“In the future, this historic achievement will mark the moment big solar started to become a major contributor to Australia’s energy supply.
“It comes less than a week after ARENA released the shortlist of 22 projects invited to progress to the next stage of its $100 million large-scale solar PV competitive round.”
Echoing Mr Thornton’s sentiments, Mr Kay said AGL and First Solar’s efforts at Nyngan and Broken Hill had delivered valuable knowledge about the challenges involved with designing, constructing and commissioning projects of a similar scale.
“The lessons learned during Nyngan’s construction were immediately applied ay Broken Hill, reducing construction times. ARENA looks forward to the next cohort of projects building on this success and knowledge to lower costs and speed up development even further,” he said.
Jack Curtis, Regional Manager for Asia Pacific at First Solar, said Australia is poised to take advantage of low-cost utility-scale solar.
“In many parts of the world, solar energy is already cost-competitive with conventional generation,” Mr Curtis said.
“Considering the substantial and sustained cost reductions in the solar industry and the lessons learnt at projects like Nyngan and Broken Hill, it is inevitable that utility-scale solar projects in Australia will compete on an unsubsidised basis, in the near future.”