Environment

Plant openings signal "birth of large-scale solar in Australia"

Together, the Nyngan (pictured) and Broken Hill plants will produce around 360,000 MWh of renewable energy annually
Together, the Nyngan (pictured) and Broken Hill plants will produce around 360,000 MWh of renewable energy annually
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Together, the Nyngan (pictured) and Broken Hill plants will produce around 360,000 MWh of renewable energy annually
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Together, the Nyngan (pictured) and Broken Hill plants will produce around 360,000 MWh of renewable energy annually
Together, the two large-scale solar plants will produce enough energy to power around 50,000 homes
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Together, the two large-scale solar plants will produce enough energy to power around 50,000 homes
The Nyngan plant has a power output of 102 MW, making it the largest such plant in the Southern Hemisphere
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The Nyngan plant has a power output of 102 MW, making it the largest such plant in the Southern Hemisphere
The development of the Nyngan plant injected a stated AU$14 million into the surrounding economy
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The development of the Nyngan plant injected a stated AU$14 million into the surrounding economy
The Nyngan plant is expected to generate a further AU$137 million for its local economy over its lifespan
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The Nyngan plant is expected to generate a further AU$137 million for its local economy over its lifespan
The Nyngan plant became operational in July
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The Nyngan plant became operational in July
The Broken Hill plant has a power output of 53 MW
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The Broken Hill plant has a power output of 53 MW
The development of the Broken Hill plant injected a stated AU$15 million into the surrounding economy
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The development of the Broken Hill plant injected a stated AU$15 million into the surrounding economy
The Broken Hill plant is expected to generate a further AU$85.5 million for its local economy over its lifespan
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The Broken Hill plant is expected to generate a further AU$85.5 million for its local economy over its lifespan
The Broken Hill plant became operational in July
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The Broken Hill plant became operational in July

Accordingto the Energy Supply Association of Australia, Australia boasts the highestrate of household solar panel installation in the world. But despite much ofthe continent being seemingly perfect for large scale solar, it has been slow in comingto the sun-drenched country. That could be set to change with the officialopening of two plants that AGL Energy managing director and CEO Andy Vesey says"signals the birth of large-scale solar in Australia".

The Nyngan and Broken Hill solar plants were originally announced in 2013 and are the largest operational solar power plants in Australia. Developed by AGL and located in western New South Wales, the Broken Hill plant has a power output of 53 MW, while the Nyngan plant outputs 102 MW, making it the largest solar plant in the Southern Hemisphere. Together they will produce around 360,000 MWh of renewable energy every year, which is enough to power around 50,000 homes.

AGL says that building the plants has delivered a boost to each of the local economies of around AUD14 to 15 million (US$9.8 to 10.5 million) already. In addition, the company anticipates that a further AUD137 million (US$96 million) will flow into the local economy around the Nyngan plant and AUD85.5 million (US$60 million) into the Broken Hill region over their 30-year lifespans.

The Nyngan and Broken Hill plants became operational in July and December last year, respectively, and were officially opened at a ceremony on January 20.

The video below provides an introduction to the 53 MW Broken Hill plant.

Source: AGL Energy

Broken Hill Solar Plant

18 comments
inchiki
Title should be "Plant openings signal birth of large-scale solar in Australia, **despite political dithering and inertia**"
Reason
Great to see, and many more to come soon one hopes. Minor niggle, there is somewhat of a disconnect between "Australia boasts the highest rate of household solar panel installation in the world." and "Together they will produce around 360,000 MWh of renewable energy every year, which is enough to power around 50,000 homes" Whether grid connected or not many of those homes are now easily capable of powering themselves (or at least partially so) so it might be worth thinking up another way of describing how much power is being generated ... and what else it might be used for.
christopher
Why did my government give my tax money to a private company so they could sell me the sun? Why didn't the company get a bank loan or do a stock capital raising, like every other company has to do when they need to buy more plant/equipment? Why are we given pointlessly useless numbers - 102MW - this plant is open now, how about telling us how many MW/h are coming out on average? Why was this not put on everyone's roof instead? What's happening to this power when it's not used during the daytime? What happens in 30 years - do we have to blow another half-billion to replace them?
Teddy
Why is it if this is such a money making scheme did they need so much taxpayer funding ? Commercial operations should stand on their own two feet, either they are viable or they are not What guarantee do these panels come with ? who foots the bill when they have to be replaced, who maintains them, who keeps them clean Fixed Solar panels even in Australia have full efficiency for only about 6 hours a day. A nuclear plant would still be working in 100 years, not these
yawood
@christopher. There is a reason that the USA will always lead Australia in the research and development of monumental achievements. The corporate and governmental worlds in the USA are willing to have a go. I know that economies of scale come into this and that the US has the size and population to attempt some pretty monumental projects. Even so, it takes people with psyche and self-belief to give them the courage and daring to try. Australians, generally, are great individual innovators but our governments are too risk averse (they are too concentrated on not doing anything that is perceived as wrong before the next election). We need this sort of investment and innovation even though we know that these panels will be obsolete before they even really get going. The lessons learned from this project will hopefully lead to better and bigger solar farms (or maybe to smaller and more diverse solar farms) in the future. But lets do something rather than just sitting around discussing how difficult and expensive it is.
Scion
A question asked is why our tax is being used to fund a private company. Well do you prefer the $1.8 billion dollars of tax money being paid to the coal industry? Or the $2.2 billion going to oil and gas? What about the $1.2 billion spent on diesel subsidies? (some of these figures may include overlap, I'm not sure but the point is made I think) Why is it so bad when the government spends some on solar? Arguably the solar industry has a ... ahem ... brighter future and the technology and knowledge we gain from investing in it locally goes a long way.
HensleyBeuronGarlington
Good point, Scion.
drender
PV seems like a strange choice for large scale electric production. Wouldn't CSP (concentrating solar power) be a more efficient way to generate power from solar? At first glance it appears that the geography of New South Wales gives it high levels of direct solar radiation and ample water.
Martin Winlow
"Plant openings signal "birth of large-scale solar in Australia"..." About flaming time! As for the whingers here, they probably had to get government backing because they couldn't attract investors due them all having their heads buried in the sand like you lot! How Germany, you know - in grey and cloudy northern Europe - can be 100 times further down this road than Australia with it virtual perpetual daytime sunlight is a complete mystery. Of course the answer is political corruption. Why you all keep on voting for one crook after another is beyond me. It's just like the Italians and Berlusconi... Oh... hang on, though...! MW
Pat Pending
Anyone know what the conversion efficiency of these panels are as installed and what it's predicted to be in three years time?
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