AGL’s 103 MW Nyngan Solar Plant has generated 60,000 MWh of renewable energy to date, in an important achievement for large-scale solar PV in Australia.

Since becoming fully operational in June 2015, AGL’s 103 MW Solar Project at Nyngan has been sending 102 MW of solar-generated electricity into the National Electricity Market.

The solar plant, a partnership between AGL Energy and First Solar, is expected to produce around 230,000 MWh of electricity annually – sufficient to meet the needs of approximately 33,000 NSW homes.

The project has involved the installation of 1.36 million solar PV modules and has provided economic benefits for the regional community, including more than 250 jobs during construction.

Total capital expenditure for both the Nyngan and its ‘twin’ Broken Hill Solar Plant is approximately $440 million, with $166.7 million being provided by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and $64.9 million coming from the NSW Government.

ARENA Chief Executive Ivor Frischknecht said the successful beginning of Nyngan’s operations was a significant milestone in the development of Australia’s large-scale solar sector.

“Nyngan becomes the third large-scale solar plant in Australia to begin generating power, after Royalla (ACT) and Greenough River (WA). Nyngan’s ‘twin’ plant at Broken Hill will soon begin operation and Moree Solar Farmis expected to produce power in early 2016.”

Mr Frischknecht said ARENA would soon launch its competitive funding round for large-scale solar projects, which will see the next generation of solar farms built across the country.

Although the Nyngan Solar Plant is currently the largest solar power plant in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere, SunEdison and Solar Choice’s 2 GW Bulli Creek Solar Farmis set to overtake it once it is completed.

Solar Choice Managing Director Angus Gemmell said there are pros and cons to developing large-scale solar PV in Australia.

“We are fortunate to have vast space, abundant sunshine and the longest contiguous grid on the planet with modern infrastructure.

“On the downside in Australia, renewable energy at a federal level has become a political battleground, and policy discussion is too often mired in emotive arguments that most other developed countries matured from and left behind years ago.”