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AGL Energy, First Solar to build 159-MW thin-film project in New South Wales

Australian electricity and gas retailer AGL Energy and American thin-film solar company First Solar will be constructing a 159-megawatt solar plant in New South Wales.

The thin-film solar project, to be built across two sites in Broken Hill (106 MW) and Nyngan (53 MW), will represent a total investment of 450 million Australian dollars ($445.7 million).

AGL is the majority owner of the project vehicle, while First Solar will design and construct the plants and maintain both projects for AGL for the first five years of commercial operation.

Construction on both sites will begin in 2014 with commercial operations set to begin in 2015.

An estimated 150 direct employment opportunities at Broken Hill and 300 in Nyngan would be generated during the construction of the project.

The projects will provide approximately 350 gigawatt-hours of energy annually, or enough to meet the needs of at least 30,000 Australian homes.

The electricity produced will be sold under a power purchase agreement to AGL Hydro Partnership, a wholly owned subsidiary of AGL.

The project is the recipient of a 129.7 million Australian dollar grant from the Australian government through its Solar Flagships program, which supports the construction and demonstration of large-scale, grid connected solar power stations in Australia (See related story).

The Solar Flagships program is under the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which was established July last year as part of the Clean Energy Future package to administer around $3.2 billion in funding to support renewable energy technology innovation.

AGL is Australia's largest private owner and operator of renewable energy assets with a power generation portfolio that includes hydro, wind, landfill gas and biomass power.– EcoSeed Staff

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