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27 April 2015

First Solar installs final module at Australia's largest solar project

First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA has installed the final cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin-film photovoltaic module at the 102MWAC Nyngan Solar Plant in New South Wales (NSW). Its 1.36 million modules will produce enough electricity annually to power more than 33,300 average homes in NSW.

About 25% of generation from block one began in March this year. About half of the plant is now online and delivering energy into the grid. Once complete, the plant will not only be the largest PV plant in the Southern Hemisphere, but also a major milestone for the utility-scale solar industry in Australia.

"First Solar's modules have dramatically improved in efficiency in recent years, and this project demonstrates the increasing commercial competitiveness of our technology," claims Jack Curtis, First Solar's regional manager for Asia Pacific. "These 1.36 million modules will have a higher energy yield than traditional crystalline silicon modules, particularly in hot climates, will produce no carbon emissions, and will require no water during operation. Utility-scale solar PV is already cost competitive with conventional generation in many parts of the world and will increasingly deliver economic stimulus to rural Australia without depleting natural resources," he adds.

During the project's planning and construction stages, First Solar worked with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and Sydney-based integrated energy company AGL (the largest ASX-listed owner, operator and developer of renewable energy generation) to ensure that the energy industry benefits from their experiences. "To date we have published 19 reports covering a range of topics from planning, approvals and logistics to procurement, construction and grid connection," says ARENA's CEO Ivor Frischknecht. "Pooling and sharing this knowledge will make it easier and cheaper to develop large-scale solar plants in Australia by helping reduce financial, regulatory and technical barriers," he adds.

The construction of the Nyngan Solar Plant has created more than 250 on-site jobs, as well as off-site jobs to supply material as well as roles responsible for the design, management and support of the project.  

"First Solar has pursued every opportunity to support local and regional businesses throughout the construction of the Nyngan Solar Plant," says Curtis. "In addition to boosting the local economy through job creation, First Solar supported Australian automotive parts manufacturers who were exploring new business opportunities. They produced vital parts, like mounting structures, transformers and switchgear to the plant." Local procurement accounted for over 55% of the total procurement spend on the Nyngan Solar Plant.

In addition to the Nyngan Solar Project, AGL also engaged First Solar to deliver the 53MWAC Broken Hill Solar Plant, also in NSW. The plant is currently under construction and meeting all major project milestones, with completion expected in November. First Solar has provided engineering, procurement & construction (EPC) services for both projects, and will provide maintenance support for five years once the solar farms are operational. The projects are supported by $166.7m in funding from ARENA and $64.9m from the NSW Government.

See related items:

First Solar breaks ground on AGL's 102MW Nyngan Solar Project in New South Wales

First Solar contracts IXL to supply framing system for AGL's New South Wales projects

First Solar to deliver 155MW of solar power projects in New South Wales for Australia's AGL

Tags: First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic CdTe

Visit: www.firstsolar.com

Visit: www.arena.gov.au

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