As part of the programme, Australian utility AGL is to develop two projects in New South Wales, a 106MW project in Nyngan, and a 53MW project in Broken Hill. Arizona-based First Solar will design and construct the integrated PV power plants, using its advanced thin-film PV modules for both projects. First Solar will also maintain both projects for AGL Energy for their first five years of commercial operation, with AGL as the majority owner.
Construction is expected to begin on both projects in 2014, with commercial operation in 2015.
AGL, which was selected as the successful proponent in the solar PV category of the government programme, will receive federal and state funding to help deliver the projects.
"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," said Jim Hughes, chief executive of First Solar.
One of a number of schemes supporting solar development in Australia, the Solar Flagships programme offers funding for construction and demonstration of large-scale, grid connected solar (PV and thermal) power stations in Australia.
On an annual basis, the projects are expected to provide approximately 350 GWh of energy annually. The electricity produced by the projects will be sold under power purchase agreements to AGL Hydro Partnership, a wholly owned subsidiary of AGL.
Michael Fraser, AGL's managing director, said: “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.”