First Solar Inc. has signed a contract to develop the Weipa solar photovoltaic project at Rio Tinto Alcan's (RTA) bauxite mine in Queensland, Australia. Ingenero is developing the project, providing design and systems integration services.
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.
The project will have an initial capacity of 1.7 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% of the daytime electricity demand. RTA will purchase the electricity under a 15-year power purchase agreement.
‘Rio Tinto Alcan is pleased to support the addition of renewable energy to complement the existing diesel generation at Weipa,’ says Gareth Manderson, RTA's general manager of Weipa operations. ‘We expect the use of solar power will reduce Weipa's annual diesel consumption and its carbon dioxide emissions by around 1,600 tons.’
The project has received a funding commitment of $3.5 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to be followed by an allocation of up to $7.8 million for the project's second phase.