You are here

US solar firm in 159 MW PV boost for Australia

First Solar to provide two PV projects for AGL Energy under Australia’s Solar Flagships Programme

The projects will provide a significant increase to PV power in Australia
The projects will provide a significant increase to PV power in Australia

A leading US solar firm is to increase solar power in Australia by 159 MW. First Solar has announced it will design, construct and maintain two utility-scale solar PV power projects totalling 159 MW for AGL Energy as part of Australia’s Solar Flagships Programme.

AGL, which is one of Australia's leading integrated renewable energy companies, was selected as the successful proponent in the solar PV category of the programme and will receive federal and state government funding to help deliver on its commitment to greater investment in renewable electricity generation.

The Australian Government’s Solar Flagships Programme is one of a number of programmes and market mechanisms providing unprecedented support for the development of a broad range and scale of solar energy projects and technologies in Australia. The programme is offering funding to support the construction and demonstration of large-scale, grid connected solar (PV and thermal) power stations in Australia.

Under the programme, AGL will develop a 106 MW project in Nyngan and a 53 MW project in Broken Hill. Both projects are in New South Wales. First Solar will design and construct the integrated PV power plants, using its engineering, procurement and construction services and its advanced thin-film PV modules for both projects.

First Solar will also maintain both projects for AGL Energy for their first five years of commercial operation. The electricity produced by the projects will be sold under power purchase agreements to AGL Hydro Partnership, a wholly owned subsidiary of AGL. The projects will be supported with funding provided by the federal government and the state government of New South Wales under separate funding agreements.

Jim Hughes, First Solar chief executive officer, said: “This is a significant step forward for the utility-scale solar industry in Australia - an order of magnitude increase in project size - and a testimony to the confidence our customers have in First Solar technology and its performance in some of the hottest and harshest conditions in the world.

“These projects demonstrate First Solar’s ability to apply its vertically integrated capabilities to deliver competitive, comprehensive, utility-scale solar solutions in future sustainable markets. We look forward to working with AGL on more projects like this in the future.”

On an annual basis, the projects will produce enough electricity to meet the needs of at least 30,000 Australian homes. The projects are expected to provide approximately 350 GWh of energy annually.

Michael Fraser, AGL’s managing director, said: “AGL is delighted to be working with the Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments, the people of Broken Hill and Nyngan, and our project partner First Solar to deliver these significant renewable energy projects. These projects represent a tremendous opportunity for AGL and the broader solar industry to begin the roll-out of solar power as a meaningful source of generation supply in Australia.”

Construction is expected to begin on both projects in 2014, with commercial operation in 2015. AGL will be the majority owner of the project vehicle.