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Go ahead for large scale solar power plant in NSW



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Minister for Resources and Energy, Minister for Tourism

Go Ahead for Large Scale Solar Power Plant in NSW 09 June 2012

One of Australia’s largest solar projects is set to go ahead in New South Wales following the announcement today of a $129.7 million grant from the Australian Government.

Electricity and gas retailer AGL Energy, together with solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturer First Solar, emerged as the successful grantees in the Australian Government’s Solar Flagships Program.

The $450 million project, to be built across two sites in Broken Hill and Nyngan, will see the establishment of 159 Megawatt advanced thin-film PV solar plant with capacity to generate enough electricity to power approximately 30,000 homes.

Following a rigorous assessment process, the independent Solar Flagships Council found the AGL project clearly had the highest level of merit overall, representing value-for-money, low risk and high commercial viability.

The Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson AM MP, said the project represents excellent value for money and the opportunity to ensure Australia brings industrial-scale solar power to market.

“At the end of the day it all comes down to cost, and if large scale solar is going to succeed in Australia it has to be cost competitive.” Minister Ferguson said.

“We have seen the cost of solar PV come down dramatically and this has allowed the Australian Government to capture this benefit and spread tax-payers money further.

“When it comes to developing first-of-a-kind projects it is important that the Australian Government seeks to reduce the risks where possible to give the Australian solar industry the best opportunity to grow.”

The AGL solar project is expected to generate over 150 direct employment opportunities at Broken Hill during construction and up to an additional 300 in Nyngan. The viability of the project is further assured by AGL signing a binding off take term sheet to acquire the electricity from the project.

“Importantly, this project remains on track to be completed by the end of 2015 as originally set out through the Solar Flagships Program.” Minister Ferguson said.

In addition, the Australian Government will provide $40.7 million under the Education Investment Fund to the University of Queensland and University of New South Wales to conduct related research. The NSW Government has also committed to provide $64.9 million to the project, making this a truly collaborative venture.

All short-listed PV projects applicants for the Solar Flagships funding, including Moree Solar Farm, TRUenergy and Infigen-Suntech, were assessed by the Solar Flagships Council and found to be of high merit. The projects will therefore be referred for funding consideration and decision by the new Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

For more information on the Solar Flagships Program, visit www.ret.gov.au.

Media Contact:

Elyse Gatt 0407 198 136

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