AGL Energy is all set to begin construction on the 102MW Nyngan solar plant in January 2014 with the award of a contract to IXL Group by contractor First Solar to supply major structural components.
The project, which will take 18 months to complete, will create around 300 construction jobs in the Nyngan region, and generate business for local suppliers and associated roll-on effects, significantly boosting local and regional economies.
Once operational by June 2015, the $300m plant will generate around 230GWh of renewable energy annually, which is enough to power more than 33,000 average New South Wales (NSW) homes.
Spanning across 250 hectares of land, about 10km west of the Nyngan Township, the project, which is claimed to be the largest solar power station in the Southern Hemisphere, will feature more than 1.35 million First Solar PV modules.
AGL manager power development Adam Mackett said the company is currently looking at engaging local contractors to build necessary fencing at the site and a major intersection and roadworks, and expects to have those contractors on board before 25 December 2013.
"We're also committed to community engagement and support throughout the life of the project and are proud to announce we will again be the major sponsor of the AGL Nyngan Ag Expo in August 2014," said Mackett.
The project will be complemented by the company's other solar plant called Broken Hill, which is due to begin construction in mid-2014 and will be commissioned by November 2015.
AGL Energy has achieved financial close in respect of funding agreements with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the NSW Government for the two projects.
ARENA will provide $166.7m and the NSW Government will provide $64.9m for the projects, which are collectively estimated to cost $450m.
Together these projects will generate 360,000MWh of electricity, which is enough to power around 50,000 average NSW homes.
In addition to providing modules, First Solar (Australia) will provide engineering, procurement and construction services for both projects. Additionally, First Solar will operate and maintain both projects for five years following the start of commercial operations.