Alinta powers up 60-MW Australian solar farm for Fortescue

Chichester Hub solar farm. Source: NAIF.

December 15 (Renewables Now) - Alinta Energy's 60-MW Chichester Hub remote solar farm in Western Australia has started supplying electricity to iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group Ltd (ASX:FMG), the two companies announced on Wednesday.

The solar farm, in the Pilbara region, is already covering the entire daytime power consumption at Fortescue’s Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak mines. Fortescue's remaining electricity needs will be met by a 35MW/11MWh battery storage facility and gas-fired power generation at Alinta Energy’s existing Newman Power Station.

Using over 160,000 panels on an area of 120 hectares, this is Western Australia's largest remote solar farm, Alinta said. The park will displace around 100 million litres of diesel per year.

As part of the project, the Australian power producer also built some 60 kilometres of new transmission lines to link Fortescue’s Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak mines to the solar farm and to Alinta's existing network infrastructure.

"We took an ambitious brief from Fortescue, who wanted to dramatically slash their emissions, and made it a reality in just three years," Alinta head Jeff Dimery said.

The solar project, which reached investment decision in early 2019, received government funding to the tune of AUD 114 million (USD 81.3m/EUR 71.8m) from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) under its Advancing Renewables programme.

"As Fortescue transitions from a pure play iron ore producer to a green energy and resources company, this milestone is a critical part of our Pilbara Energy Connect project which together with the Chichester solar farm will see 25% of Fortescue’s stationary energy powered by solar," Fortescue chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said in a separate statement.

(AUD 1 = USD 0.713/EUR 0.630)

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