Diesel-PV hybrid project will offset grid requirements and reduce diesel usage
Integrating the use of solar power with diesel in an Australian mining operation, if successful, will reduce the requirement for all-diesel machinery.
To accomplish this First Solar, Rio Tinto, and Ingenero have agreed on the development of the Weipa Solar Photovoltaic Project in Queensland, Australia.
The project has received funding from the Commonwealth Government, with an initial commitment of $3.5 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to be followed by an allocation of up to $7.8 million for the project’s second phase.
First Solar, with expertise in utility-scale grid integration and plant control systems, plans to offer a FuelSmart solution that provides maximum fuel savings while maintaining system reliability. Combined with Ingenero’s design, development and integration experience, the project will generate electricity for Rio Tinto Alcan’s (RTA) Weipa bauxite mine, processing facilities and township on the Western Cape York Peninsula.
“Rio Tinto Alcan is pleased to support the addition of renewable energy to complement the existing diesel generation at Weipa,” said RTA General Manager Weipa Operations Gareth Manderson in a press announcement. “We expect the use of solar power will reduce Weipa’s annual diesel consumption and its carbon dioxide emissions by around 1600 tons.”
The project will have an initial capacity of 1.7 megawatts (MW) with the potential to expand by an additional 5 MW after the commissioning of the initial phase. The first phase of the project will generate sufficient electricity to offset up to 20 percent of the daytime electricity demand, while reducing the diesel consumption for every MWh of electricity produced.
With completion scheduled for late 2014, First Solar will supply its advanced thin-film PV modules and other balance of system components, in addition to providing operation and maintenance services for the duration of the project.
RTA will purchase the electricity under a 15 year Power Purchase Agreement. The project is one which all partners see as a step towards energy alternatives for remote mining operations.
Source: Business Wire