Energy company AGL is to break ground on the largest solar plant in the southern hemisphere. At a cost of $300 million and occupying 250 hectares the project is to predicted to boost the local economy.
“This is going to create 300 jobs during construction and there is an opportunity for significant flow on benefits to the Nyngan during the construction,” said project manager Adam Mackett. “This project will be 10 times bigger than the current largest solar plant in Australia and will be a significant draw card for people coming to Nyngan.”
Nyngan Solar Plant by the numbers:
- 103 – megawatts capability of the solar farm
- 1.4 million – number of solar panels to be installed
- 33,000 – number of homes to be powered by the utility
- 53,000 – equivalent number of cars off the road
The plant was made possible with the backing of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), a body that has seen its funding cut and continued existence threatened as it dismantles many renewable energy bodies instituted under the previous Labor governement (keen readers may have noticed the pattern developing).
ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the Nyngan plant, “is an example of ARENA delivering on its vision to catalyse the development and deployment of renewable energy in Australia.”
AGL will also begin work on a solar plant in Broken Hill over the coming months. Both plants will feature drought-resistant solar panels especially suited to repel dirt and dust (although most panels do a pretty good job, often the rain is enough to wash them clean).
Meanwhile, in his State of the Union address, United States President Barrack Obama singled out the countries booming solar industry pointing out that every four minutes and new house or business is installing solar panels, all of which need to be installed by Americans – a skill that can not be outsourced.
With Australian solar jobs expected to decline if the government sways on the current Renewable Energy Target, we can only hope that PM Tony Abbott follows the example set by his US counterpart.