AGL Solar Project


  • Broken Hill: Looking North

  • The sun rises on Broken Hill solar plant

  • Broken Hill: Southerly view

  • Sturt Desert Peas in arrays

  • Modules being installed at Broken Hill solar plant

  • Broken Hill solar plant under construction

  • Aerial view of Nyngan site - March 2015

  • Solar panels installed at Nyngan

  • ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht signs the first solar panel to be installed at the Nyngan solar plant

  • ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht with federal and state officials and key stakeholders at the installation of the first solar panels at Nyngan solar plant.

This project aims to increase knowledge in large-scale solar energy by constructing two solar photovoltaic (PV) power stations in New South Wales, which between them will have a generation capacity of up to 155 megawatts (MW) (AC) of electricity.

Lead organisation:
AGL Energy Limited (AGL)
Project partners:
First Solar (Australia) Pty Ltd, NSW Government, University of Queensland, University of NSW
Broken Hill and Nyngan, NSW
Solar energy
ARENA program:
Stand alone
Start date:
Nyngan: January 2014 | Broken Hill: July 2014


Knowledge gained through the construction and operation of large-scale, grid-connected solar power stations would help solar energy play a greater role in meeting Australia’s electricity needs.

Project innovation

This project aims to increase knowledge in large-scale solar energy by constructing two solar photovoltaic (PV) power stations in New South Wales, which between them will have a generation capacity of up to 155 megawatts (MW) (AC) of electricity.

AGL has engaged First Solar as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the project. First Solar will build the power stations using its thin film PV technology and will maintain the facilities for an initial five year period following construction.

Two universities will conduct related academic research under the Education Investment Fund (EIF) component of the project.

The University of Queensland (UQ) will build a 3.275MW PV research plant at its Gatton campus to test tracking technologies and performance, energy storage, and operational strategies. UQ will also build a data analysis centre at its St Lucia campus to collect and analyse data from the Gatton research plant and the main AGL power stations.

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) will develop new energy modelling techniques to assist in the design and integration of solar power stations into the electricity grid.

The NSW Government has also committed $64.9 million to the project.

Reports and guides

To benefit future large-scale solar plant developments in Australia, these reports and guides cover topics ranging from planning, approvals and logistics to procurement, construction and grid connection.

Reports and guides for large-scale solar projects

Guide to local procurement – Nyngan Solar Plant (PDF 663KB) | (DOC 861KB)
The delivery of a utility scale solar project requires supply of equipment and materials from numerous specialty and commodity suppliers. The establishment of an in-country supply chain was deemed the most effective way to support project delivery at the scale of the Nyngan Solar Plant project.

Guide to labour and accommodation – Nyngan Solar Plant (PDF 624KB) | (DOC 3MB)
The construction of utility scale solar project involves a significant amount of skilled and unskilled labour. Site locations in regional areas such as Nyngan are not always able to meet the full labour requirements and non-local labour must be sourced to add to the local workforce.

Guide to engineering design and procurement – Nyngan Solar Plant (PDF 316KB) | (DOC 26KB)
The construction of a utility scale solar project involves taking standard designs and localising them to the local standards and codes, as well to local site requirements. This involves co-ordinating international design teams with local subject matter experts to provide code compliant designs for cost-effective procurement and implementation.

Guide to early works activities – Nyngan Solar Plant (PDF 323KB) | (DOC 27KB)
A number of early works activities were required to enable site mobilisation and facilitate the commencement of construction at the Nyngan Solar Plant site. These activities included upgrades to the site access turnoff and access road, initial earthworks, and construction of a temporary water supply for dust suppression.

Guide to site mobilisation – Nyngan Solar Plant (PDF 368KB) | (DOC 523KB)
The majority of the key learning’s involved in site mobilisation were driven by identifying and engaging regional companies to provide the site mobilisation services. A number of capable and experienced local players were identified in this space, and while none of the companies had solar project experience the site mobilisation process is fairly consistent with non-solar projects and no major issues or gaps were identified.

Guide to access road construction – Nyngan Solar Plant (PDF 352KB) | (DOC 552KB)
Thorough preparation and execution of the access road works is important to ensure timely delivery of the project. Any delays in delivery (i.e. weather) will impact the project delivery schedule as the majority of site works occur after the completion of the access road.

Guide to materials delivery – Nyngan Solar Plant (PDF 788KB) | (DOC 5MB)
Opportunities for cost reduction exist in the optimisation of material delivery – specifically through the evaluation of multiple delivery points (Adelaide vs. Sydney) and form of transport (road vs. rail). It is also important to monitor the existing transport networks to maximise regional transport hubs.

Guide to international knowledge transfer- Nyngan Solar Plant (PDF 314KB) | (DOC 26KB)
Australia has minimal experience in the delivery of utility scale solar projects and has the potential to benefit greatly from knowledge transfer from more developed international markets, particularly Europe and North America.

Guide to local supply chain issues – Nyngan Solar Plant (PDF 908KB) | (DOC 4MB)
Local supply chain is non-existent for standard products in foreign markets (e.g. I-Beam posts used in the USA could not be sourced in Australia). For imported products, foreign suppliers are often unfamiliar with Australia Standards and sometimes with export requirements. Imported products increase lead time and shipping costs.

Guide to switchyard construction – Nyngan Solar Plant (PDF 351KB) | (DOC 29KB)
The construction of electrical infrastructure (e.g. substations, switchyards, or overhead lines) assets needs to consider the specific requirements of the Network Service Provider (NSP) as the ultimate owner of these assets. Essential Energy is the NSP for the Nyngan Solar Plant.

Guide to transmission easement – Nyngan Solar Plant (PDF 348KB) | (DOC 28KB)
Construction of a utility scale solar project in regional Australia will typically require the construction of a transmission line in order to connect the solar plant to the grid. Construction and operation of the transmission line will require the creation of an easement in order to provide a registered legal right that applies over the land. This process needs to consider the specific requirements of the Network Services Provider (NSP) – Essential Energy for the Nyngan Solar Plant and other landholders.

Guide to gaining regulatory approvals for large-scale solar projects in NSW
AGL developed this step by step guide to provide a general framework which may help reduce the time required to obtain planning consents for future large-scale solar projects in NSW.

Grid connection modelling to define solar plant performance characteristics (PDF 338KB) | (DOC 133KB)
AGL used extensive modelling to determine the requirements of connecting its solar plant to the grid.

Defining communications requirements for a new generator (PDF 370KB) | (DOC 393KB)
AGL found that the cost of communications infrastructure between the generation facility, Network Service Provider and Australian Energy Market Operator should be included in the grid connection process.

Grid connection modelling and inverter characteristics (PDF 296KB) | (DOC 25KB)
AGL shares its learning on the importance of using an appropriate plant invertor in grid connection modelling.

Definition of project scope between multiple contractors (PDF 298KB) | (DOC 25KB)
AGL found that engaging a single engineering, procurement and construction contractor on a project can reduce risks.

Preparation of connection studies (PDF 299KB) | (DOC 25KB)
AGL learned that technical modelling and connection studies needed for grid connection can be time consuming.

Impact of temperature on plant performance and overhead line design (PDF 298KB) | (DOC 25KB)
AGL found that savings can be made in the design of overhead transmission lines.

A review of connection feasibility on the UQ Gatton 3.3 MW photovoltaic array (PDF 301KB) | (DOC 26KB)
The University of Queensland found that the proposed Gatton photovoltaic array can be connected to that grid at 11 kV, rather than 33 kV, reducing costs without significant impacts to the network.



This project will help the large-scale solar industry develop in Australia, encourage economic and industry development at the two locations in regional New South Wales, provide academic research infrastructure, and develop Australian intellectual property in solar power generation.

AGL estimates over 450 construction jobs will be created at the two project locations, with more local jobs created to support the construction workforces. Approximately five permanent local jobs will also be created to support ongoing plant operations at each site.

Importantly, the AGL project will promote industry development by transferring skills and experience to the local labour markets, as well as helping to develop a supply chain that will benefit the entire solar industry. These developments will help drive down the cost of implementing further large-scale solar projects in the future.

More information

Media releases

Contact information

Adam Mackett, Manager Power Development, AGL Energy Limited
+61 2 9921 2561