First Solar commissions 1.7-MW project in Australia

First Solar - AP photo

Arizona, US, -based solar equipment manufacturer First Solar has commissioned a 1.7 megawatt solar facility in Queensland, Australia. The solar farm is sited at a bauxite mine being operated by the global mining giant Rio Tinto on the Western Cape York Peninsula.

Rio Tinto was using two diesel engines with 36 megawatts capacity to power operations of the Weipa mine.

The solar park is expected to generate 2.8 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually and is adequate to provide up to 20 percent of the daytime electricity used by the mine’s processing facilities.

The solar park is expected to reduce annual diesel consumption at the mine by up to 600,000 liters.

Rio Tinto has signed a 15-year power purchase agreement with First Solar to evacuate the electricity produced from 18,000 modules at the plant. These have been connected to the existing mini-grid of Rio Tinto.

The natural resources sector has been very conservative about adopting renewable energy technologies.

Weipa Solar Plant will help First Solar to demonstrate the viability of a new commercial model for solar projects in the natural resources sector, the statement says.

Ajith Kumar S