Western Australia’s largest solar farm on a remote network, the 60 MW Alinta Energy Chichester Hub Solar Farm in the Pilbara region, has begun production for Fortescue Metals Group.
The solar farm includes over 160,000 solar panels over 120 hectares and has already powered up to 100 per cent of daytime operations at Fortescue’s Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak mines, and will displace around 100 million litres of diesel every year. Supply will be backed up by battery storage and gas generation at Alinta Energy’s Newman Power Station.
Alinta Energy’s MD & CEO Jeff Dimery said the commencement of operations is a giant leap forward in the race to a low carbon energy future.
“We took an ambitious brief from Fortescue, who wanted to dramatically slash their emissions, and 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,” Mr Dimery said.
The remote project was delivered with over 500 construction workers, more than 570,000 hours worked and with zero lost time injuries.
“I want to thank those who spent unexpectedly long periods away from their families due to COVID restrictions to keep the project moving forward.
“Together, we’ve built a benchmark renewable project with an ambitious partner, and given the abundance of high quality renewables resources in the Pilbara we look forward to supporting others to do the same.”
The project received funding from NAIF as well as ARENA as part of its Advancing Renewables Program.
Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) CEO Darren Miller said it is a monumental step forward to see solar and battery storage help to displace diesel on mining sites.
“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.”
The project also included the construction of approximately 60 kilometres of new transmission lines to link Fortescue’s Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak mines to the solar farm and Alinta Energy’s existing network infrastructure.