Solar production has begun for Fortescue Metals Group in the Pilbara region. This is thanks to Alinta Energy’s Chichester Hub solar farm.
It is the largest solar farm on a remote network in WA.
It currently powers 100% of Fortescue’s Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak mines daytime operations. The power produced by the solar farm replaces around 100 million litres of diesel every year.
Alinta Energy’s Newman power station will back up the supply of solar power with battery storage and gas generation.
“We took an ambitious brief from Fortescue, who wanted to dramatically slash their emissions. We made it a reality in just three years. I can’t understate the engineering challenge of designing and building a renewable solution on this scale, in a harsh environment like the Pilbara, to meet the reliability standards of mines like these.
I’m very proud of the team, our partners and customer Fortescue, our lead contractor Downer and their subcontractors and suppliers, NAIF, ARENA, the pastoralist Roy Hill station and in particular the Nyiyaparli People on whose country the solar farm sits,” Alinta Energy managing director and chief executive officer Jeff Dimery said.
The Pilbara received approximately 4015 hours of sun each year, making it one of the sunniest regions in Australia.
The Chichester Hub solar farm spans over 120 hectares and hosts over 160 000 solar panels.
The project received funding from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF). It also received funding from Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) as part of its Advancing Renewables Program.
“This is a monumental step forward to see solar and battery storage help to displace diesel on mining sites,” ARENA chief executive officer Darren Miller said.
“Optimising the transition to renewable electricity has been a key priority for ARENA and we are excited to see the Alinta Energy and Fortescue project now successfully using solar energy for the day-to-day operations of the mines.”