11 June 2012

First Solar to provide 159MW for AGL under Australia’s Solar Flagships Program

First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA, which makes thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe) as well as providing engineering, procurement & construction (EPC) services, says that, as part of the Australian Government’s Solar Flagships Program, it is to design, construct and maintain two utility-scale solar power projects with annual capacity totaling 159MWAC for AGL Energy Ltd (Australia’s largest private owner and operator of renewable energy assets). AGL was selected in the solar PV category of the program and will receive federal and state government funding to help it deliver on its commitment to greater investment in renewable electricity generation.

The Solar Flagships Program is one of a number of programs and market mechanisms providing what is claimed to be unprecedented support for the development of a broad range and scale of solar energy projects and technologies in Australia. The program is offering funding to support the construction and demonstration of large-scale, grid-connected solar (PV and thermal) power stations in Australia.

Under the program, AGL will develop a 106MWAC project in Nyngan and a 53MWAC project in Broken Hill, both in New South Wales. First Solar will also maintain both projects for AGL for their first five years of commercial operation. The electricity produced by the projects will be sold under power purchase agreements (PPAs) to subsidiary AGL Hydro Partnership.

The projects will be supported with funding provided by Australia’s federal government and the state government of New South Wales under separate funding agreements.

“This is a significant step forward for the utility-scale solar industry in Australia — an order of magnitude increase in project size — and a testimony to the confidence our customers have in First Solar technology and its performance in some of the hottest and harshest conditions in the world,” says the firm’s CEO Jim Hughes. "These projects demonstrate First Solar's ability to apply its vertically integrated capabilities to deliver competitive, comprehensive, utility-scale solar solutions in future sustainable markets,” he adds. “We look forward to working with AGL on more projects like this in the future.”

On an annual basis, the projects will produce enough electricity to meet the needs of at least 30,000 Australian homes. The projects are expected to provide about 350GWh of energy annually.

The projects are expected to create about 450 jobs at peak construction. Construction is expected to begin on both projects in 2014, with commercial operation in 2015. AGL will be the majority owner of the project vehicle.

“AGL is delighted to be working with the Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments, the people of Broken Hill and Nyngan, and our project partner First Solar to deliver these significant renewable energy projects,” says AGL’s managing director Michael Fraser. “These projects represent a tremendous opportunity for AGL and the broader solar industry to begin the roll-out of solar power as a meaningful source of generation supply in Australia.”

Tags: First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic CdTe

Visit: www.firstsolar.com

Visit: www.agl.com.au

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