Environment

Australia to get Southern Hemisphere's largest solar PV plant

The Nyngan solar PV plant will be the largest in the Southern Hemisphere
The Nyngan solar PV plant will be the largest in the Southern Hemisphere
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The Nyngan solar PV plant will be the largest in the Southern Hemisphere
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The Nyngan solar PV plant will be the largest in the Southern Hemisphere
The Nyngan and Broken Hill plants will use thin-film PV modules from First Solar
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The Nyngan and Broken Hill plants will use thin-film PV modules from First Solar
The Nyngan and Broken Hill plants will produce a total of 155 MW
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The Nyngan and Broken Hill plants will produce a total of 155 MW
The Nyngan plant will cover an area of 460 ha (1,137 a) with a solar field of 250 ha (618 a).
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The Nyngan plant will cover an area of 460 ha (1,137 a) with a solar field of 250 ha (618 a).

With plenty of sun-drenched, wide open spaces, Australia is an obvious place for large-scale solar power plants. It would seem that large reserves of coal, oil and natural gas, have on the other hand made it difficult for the country to wean itself off fossil fuels. But renewable energy is getting a boost down-under with the announcement of two solar projects, one of which will be the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) plant in the Southern Hemisphere.

The projects include a 53 MW solar plant at Broken Hill and a 102 MW plant at Nyngan, both located in the state of New South Wales (NSW). The Broken Hill plant will cover an area of 200 hectares (494 acres) with 125 ha (309 acres) of that devoted to the solar field, while the Nyngan plant will cover an area of 460 ha (1,137 acres) with a solar field of 250 ha (618 acres).

Both pale in comparison to the Agua Caliente Solar Project currently being built in Arizona that is expected to boast an installed capacity of 397 MW upon its completion in 2014. However, the Nyngan plant will be the largest solar PV plant in Australia and the largest in the Southern Hemisphere when completed.

The Nyngan and Broken Hill plants will produce a total of 155 MW
The Nyngan and Broken Hill plants will produce a total of 155 MW

The Nyngan and Broken Hill plants will produce around 360,000 MW/h of electricity annually, which is sufficient to meet the needs of over 50,000 average NSW homes claims AGL Energy, which secured funding agreements with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the New South Wales Government to allow it to move ahead with the projects.

Construction will be handled by First Solar, whose thin-film PV modules will be used for both plants. ARENA and the NSW Government will provide AU$166.7 million (US$149 million) and AU$64.9 million (US$58 million), respectively, towards the projects’ total estimated cost of AU$450 million (US$403 million).

The Nyngan project is due to get underway in January 2014 for a mid-2015 completion date, with construction of the Broken Hill plant is set to begin in July 2014 start date for a November 2015 finish.

Source: AGL

20 comments
piperTom
All of the start-up funding is from governments? Yes, and it's a sure sign that it's a poor investment. Thanks for pointing out that Australia has plenty of (cheaper) fossil fuel energy sources. I pity the taxpayers there who have cast hundreds of millions into this money pit. (Perhaps, it'll pay off in the "long run", after it's obsolete.)
Jay Finke
Good for them, solar seems to me as the less evasive way to harness power without effecting the climate. I wounder if these produce anything under full moonlight ?
John Ballard
Let me save you the suspense, Solar is not perfect. But it will not harm the environment which contrary to some IS valuable.
socalboomer
@ John - you've got 680 hectares now covered with PA. That doesn't impact the environment? Sure, it's desert, but things still live in the desert. You've got a lot of rare-earth metals in those PA, that impacted the environment; you've to copper/aluminum infrastructure as well as cabling the long distance to consumers, both of which take quite an environmental impact to create. Solar, as a concept, will not harm the environment (supposedly - the UV from the sun actually does quite a lot of "natural" damage) but a PV installation of this size does most definitely leave an impact on the environment.
Slowburn
Solar thermal systems can at least be designed that they can use an alternate energy source at night or during dust storms.
Slowburn
Aren't there roads in Australia? Don't destroy virgin desert and provide shade for vehicles during the hottest part of the day.
Stephen N Russell
How bout some for Brazil, Peru, Morocco, Turkey, India, So Africa,
Rick Fishbourne
Cool bananas...it's about time we took a bigger chunk of this pie.
John S
The concept is good the intention is good but what an environmental disaster. PV's are far better suited on wasted roof spaces, commercial buildings, logistics depots, railyards, halls, shopping malls and homes that have acres of tin, tiles etc, doing nothing, plus the added advantage that it is at the user's source not hundreds of k's from nowhere. Newer technologies incorporating hotwater systems can have a far greater impact than a PV farm in the middle of beyond. Granted a lot of people think that a desert is dead, most haven't seen what happens when rain falls on it. Building something this large does have a monumental impact on the ecological diversification of a desert. And realistically if they build something this large it would need to be fenced in and the ground poisoned on a regular basis to stop plants taking root and animals burrowing, roosting and living under and on the structures, so animal lovers may find it not too their liking that's for sure. Great idea but far better suited within grid connect area's that have abundant roof space to take advantage of and utilise the heat load as well. A technology that lays waste to hundreds and hundreds of acres is well "not realistically well thought out at all" and if it has, the full extent or it's ramifiacations are not disclosed and will eventually turn into a Pandora's box.
Ian McIntosh
Hmmm. You have done some research Socalboomer. Good. Can you do similar assessment for me on the materials required for a coal fired electricity plant. Ignore for now carbon emissions, but look up radium and ash emissions from those plants as well. Just 12 months worth will do. Then make a comparison with the terrible environmental impact of a solar plant.
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