Professor Paul Meredith ... "a game-changing project for Australia"
Professor Paul Meredith ... "a game-changing project for Australia"
1 August 2013

The University of Queensland has been confirmed as Lead Research Organisation on a $450 million solar farm project to be built in western New South Wales under the Federal Government’s former Solar Flagships Program.

This week ASX-listed company AGL Energy Limited reached financial close with the Federal Government's Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the NSW Government on the $450 million project.

“It is an exciting day for renewable energy in this country,” said Professor Paul Meredith of UQ’s Global Change Institute and the School of Mathematics and Physics.

“This project will create Australia’s largest solar power plant and indeed the southern hemisphere’s, and the nation’s, first to be built at the utility scale.

“ARENA, the main investor in this project, has done a great job of negotiating with a range of partners to ensure this game-changing project for Australia could get started as soon as possible.”

UQ will partner with the University of New South Wales in a $40.7 million Education Investment Fund Research Infrastructure Program grant, to support the 155MW overall project.

US-owned First Solar will design and construct the solar plants in NSW — 102MW at Nyngan and 53MW at Broken Hill — using its advanced, thin-film CdTe PV modules.

First Solar also will provide overall engineering, procurement and construction services.

The companies will receive $166.7 million from the federal government through ARENA and $64.9 million from the NSW Government to support the project, which is due to start construction in January 2014, for completion late in 2015.

First Solar will maintain the solar farms for AGL Energy for the first five years of operation.

Professor Meredith said the UQ-led EIF Research Infrastructure Project would integrate with and support the development and operations of the AGL / First Solar power plants.

“Components of our research will focus on energy storage, plant optimisation, power systems and the impact of renewable energy on the National Electricity Market,” he said.

“Our work will help build national capacity for research in solar power deployment, and will have global significance. “

“We are delighted to be working with AGL, First Solar, UNSW and the NSW and federal governments on this landmark, large-scale project.”

UQ’s 1.22MW photovoltaic solar array at its main St Lucia campus in Brisbane – built in 2011 – remains Australia’s largest rooftop PV solar installation.

Media: Professor Paul Meredith, UQ, ph +61 7 33665 7050; Fiona Cameron, UQ Communications, ph +61 7 3346 7086.

Partners’ statements (31 July 2013):

- the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s media release and a project fact sheet can be accessed here

- a joint media release from the Minister for Resources and Energy, Mr Gary Gray, and the Minister for Climate Change, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Water, Mr Mark Butler, can be accessed here

- AGL Energy’s statement to the Australian Stock Exchange can be accessed here