Nyngan and Broken Hill are to each have solar electricity projects expected to produce 360,000 megawatt hours per year, enough to service more than 50,000 average homes.
The AGL contract for the two projects was won by Arizona company, First Solar, Inc., awarding the framing manufacture and construction to Geelong’s IXL Group. The utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) projects contain 155 MW (AC) of panels.
IXL already has experience with similar project work, having completed framing for First Solar’s 10MW Greenough River Solar Farm (GRSF) in Western Australia, in 2012. The Greenough River solar farm was the first utility-scale PV project in Australia, 10 times larger than any other operating solar project in Australia. This project powers part of the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant, near Binningup.
IXL says manufacturing the frames in Australia shortens the supply chain. The experience gained with the smaller Greenough River project set IXL up to win the larger Nyngan and Broken Hill projects, that will utilise around 6000 tonnes of Australian made steel.
Jack Curtis, First Solar’s Vice President of Business Development for Asia Pacific says of their implementation strategy, “Our continued selection of local supply chain providers validates the economic viability of producing solar components in Australia and will continue to help support Australian industry and job creation. Partnering with IXL will further enable First Solar to reduce the cost of delivering solar power to the Australia market through the efficiencies that come from working on multiple projects.”
IXL Group encompasses multiple companies that contribute to these projects, and Victoria and South Australia will benefit from jobs associated with these projects. 40 new jobs are expected to be created within the IXL Group for the projects.
Responsibility for manufacturing infrastructure and a range of the framing system components rests with Backwell IXL in Geelong. Other supplying companies in Geelong and other areas of Victoria will also benefit from outsourcing various infrastructure components to them, such as as tooling and a roll forming line.
Framing system assembly is to take place in Adelaide, so that completed frames can be shipped to the destination site using road trains. Assembling the framing systems in Adelaide substantially reduces its project freight costs. As with the Greenough River project, lessons learned from this project will feed into future projects.
General Manager IXL Solar, Claude Dagescy, speaking about the project, said IXL believes “Australian made framing systems can be more than competitive with imports.”