Australia isn’t known as a ‘sunburned country’ for no reason. The sun-drenched continent is the perfect place for solar power generation. For some time, the land down under has boasted the highest rate of residential solar panel installations, but it’s been lagging behind in the development of large-scale solar projects. All of that is set to change as two solar power plants have officially opened for business.

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The Nyngan and Broken Hill solar plants initially announced in 2013 were developed by AGL Energy. Together, they are expected to produce around 360,000 MWh of solar energy each year. In Australia, that’s enough electricity to power nearly 50,000 homes. The Broken Hill plant is located in western New South Wales and boasts a power output of 53 MW, while the Nyngan plant generates 102 MW. Nyngan is the largest solar plant in the Southern Hemisphere.

Related: One in five houses in Australia is using solar energy

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With the opening of these two solar farms, Australia is making a huge push forward in renewable energy. As of the year ending December 2012, Australia got 13.14 percent of its energy from renewable sources, with hydroelectricity making up over half of that. Photovoltaics supplied just eight percent of the renewable energy that year, but future figures are aiming much higher. AGL Energy CEO Andy Vesey says the two solar power plants represent “the birth of large-scale solar in Australia.”

The Nyngan and Broken Hill plants began converting the sun’s energy into usable electricity in July and December, respectively. Australia’s two largest solar plants were celebrated last week with an opening ceremony.

Via Gizmag

Images via AGL Energy