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Broken Hill to receive new solar power plant

5th Apr 2013

In exciting news for the Australian solar power industry, a new solar power plant has been recommended for approval in Broken Hill, New South Wales.

The power plant will be made up of over 650,000 solar photovoltaic modules, providing 50 MW of capacity in addition to a 100 MW project which will be operating at Nyngan in NSW.

AGL Energy - an energy company with interests in wind, hydro and solar - is developing the projects, in conjunction with First Solar (a solar photovoltaic energy solutions provider) and the Australian federal and NSW state governments.

First Solar will be providing the project's engineering, procurement and construction services - as well as the use of its thin-film PV modules.

These are state-of-the-art cadmium telluride modules which require between 1-2 per cent of the semiconductor material needed by the traditional crystalline modules to produce an equivalent amount of energy.They are also environmentally friendly and recyclable.

The solar modules at Broken Hill will be fixed at a 25 degree angle facing to the north, making use of the region's high levels of solar radiation.

The modules will be wired together into standard arrays connected to inverters which will transform the DC current into AC current.

This current will then be fed into the grid network via a 22 kV transmission line. The transmission line links the solar power produced to the existing Broken Hill substation, 2.7 km east of the power plant.

Planning for the power plant is slated to continue throughout 2013 for construction to commence in 2014.

The federal government's Solar Flagship Program is one of the project's benefactors. Wanting solar power to play a key role in Australia's electricity supply, the competitive initiative was created to fund large-scale and grid-connected solar power projects.

Applicants must meet a number of criteria to receive a Solar Flagship grant, including having a solar electricity capacity of at least 150 MW, the project's construction being completed by December 2015.

It must be connected to the National Electricity Market or South West Interconnected System by the end of the year 2015.

Overal,through this scheme the Australian government is providing $129.7 million and the NSW government $64.9 million. Total capital expenditure for the project is set to be $450 million.

The project's lifespan is expected to be at least 30 years and is expected to generate enough clean energy to power over 17,000 average NSW homes per year, saving over 110,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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