Mining company Rio Tinto is to more than triple the local electricity network’s solar generation capacity at its Weipa bauxite operations in Queensland as decarbonisation accelerates in Australia’s mining sector.
Announcing a new solar farm and battery storage at Weipa today a Rio general manager Michelle Elvy said: “The new solar farm and battery storage at Weipa will help us lower our carbon footprint and diesel use in a reliable way.
“The original Weipa solar farm was the largest solar facility at an off-grid Australian mine site at the time it was built, and it played an important role in showing the viability of renewable energy systems in remote locations.
“The new solar farm and battery storage system is part of Rio Tinto’s group-wide commitment to reduce emissions across our operations. There is clearly more work to be done, but projects like this are an important part of meeting our climate targets.”
Under Rio’s plans, EDL has been contracted to build, own and operate a 4MW solar plant and 4MW/4MWh of battery storage at Weipa, complementing the existing 1.6MW solar farm.
The battery system will be built next to the existing Weipa power station and will help provide a stable power network for Rio’s bauxite mines and the Weipa township.
Work on the battery facilities will start this year, with construction to be complete by late 2022.
EDL Chief Executive Officer James Harman said: “EDL will be leveraging expertise from our hybrid renewable energy systems around Australia to deliver clean and reliable energy for Rio Tinto’s operations and the local community.”
When complete, the combined 4MW solar capacity and 4MW/4MWh battery will provide about 11 gigawatt hours of energy annually.
Combined with upgrades to the existing Weipa power generation network, the improvements will reduce Weipa Operations’ diesel consumption by an estimated 7 million litres per year and lower its annual carbon dioxide emissions by about 20,000 tonnes – the equivalent of taking more than 3,750 cars off the road.
Picture: Rio Tinto
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