AGL’s new 53 megawatt solar power plant in Broken Hill has received its final solar panel, making it possible to generate enough renewable energy to power the equivalent of 17,000 homes.

Australia’s second-largest utility-scale solar plant, the 53MW Broken Hill solar farm in New South Wales, is on track to be fully operational by the end of the 2015, after the last of the project’s advanced photovoltaic modules were successfully installed.

The developer of the project, First Solar, announced the milestone on Monday, a little under a month after the plant achieved first generation, when an initial 26 MW of renewable energy started feeding into the National Electricity Market.

The NSW Government contributed $64.9 million to the development of this plant and its 102 MW sister plant, which opened earlier this year at Nyngan.

Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts, while visiting the final panel installation at Broken Hill, said the government was committed to increasing renewable energy generation in NSW and that this plant was evidence of a new era for large scale renewable energy in NSW.

“The installation of the last of 677,760 solar PV modules covering more than 14 hectares at Broken Hill marks an important milestone for regional NSW and its contribution to the growth of large-scale solar; boosting the amount of renewable energy in NSW,” Mr Roberts said.

While joining Mr Roberts, Environment Minister Mark Speakman said both plants were producing reliable and affordable clean energy and multiple environmental, economic and social benefits.

“NSW is leading Australia in supporting the clean energy sector, which contributes to lower energy costs and provides employment and investment particularly in regional communities.”

Jack Curtis, First Solar’s Regional Manager for Asia Pacific said the plant’s advanced Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) modules  – of which 677,760 are installed, so far – offered significant advantages over typical crystalline silicon modules, particularly in a hot climate like Broken Hill.

“Just six months afterwas switched on, we are now another step closer to completing Australia Australia’s largest solar plant at Nyngan ’s two largest utility-scale solar plants in the same year,” Curtis said.