First Solar has begun construction on AGL Energy's 102MW Nyngan solar power plant in New South Wales, which is claimed to be the largest utility-scale solar project in Australia.
The project will generate 230GWh of renewable energy annually, which is enough electricity to power more than 33,000 average New South Wales homes and curb more than 203,000t of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
In addition to construction, which is likely to be completed in mid-2015, First Solar is also responsible for providing engineering and procurement services for the project and five-year maintenance services post commissioning.
Spanning across 250 hectares of land, about 10km west of the Nyngan Township, the $300m plant will feature around 1,350,000 advanced thin-film PV modules.
In December 2013, First Solar awarded a contract to IXL Group for the supply of major structural components for the project, construction of which is likely to take 18 months.
The project will create 300 construction jobs in the Nyngan region, and generates business for local suppliers and associated roll-on effects.
First Solar Asia Pacific vice-president of business development Jack Curtis said the start of the construction works at the Nyngan plant is a key milestone for the advancement of Australia's utility-scale solar industry.
Curtis said, "Each project that First Solar constructs builds acceptance of and confidence in utility-scale solar as an effective source of power generation in Australia.
"As the Nyngan project develops, we look forward to seeing its impact, not only in generating important local job opportunities, but also in strengthening the solar industry's position within Australia's energy mix."
The Nyngan project is being complemented by the company's other solar plant called Broken Hill, which is due to begin construction in mid-2014 and commission by November 2015.
In 2013, AGL Energy had achieved financial closure in respect of funding agreements with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency ($166.7m) and the NSW Government ($64.9m) for the two projects.
Together the projects are estimated to cost $450m and generate 360,000MWh of electricity, which is enough to power around 50,000 average NSW homes.
Image: Worker installing modules at a First Solar project. Photo: courtesy of AGL Energy.