Rio Tinto breaks ground on hybrid renewables project in Madagascar

Source: Twitter, @Vestas

December 10 (Renewables Now) - Anglo-Australian mining group Rio Tinto Plc (LON:RIO) on Friday announced the start of construction of a project combining 8 MW of solar, 12 MW of wind and storage capacity that will supply power to its ilmenite mine in Madagascar.

Rio Tinto QIT Madagascar Minerals (QMM), a joint venture 80% owned by Rio Tinto and 20% by the government of Madagascar, held a groundbreaking ceremony in the Ehoala Park zone together with Crossboundary Energy, an independent power producer, which will build and operate the hybrid plant. The parties signed a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) in July.

The solar installation, consisting of about 18,000 panels, will go on stream next year, while the wind farm, made up of four turbines, will be completed in 2023. The plant will also feature an 8.25-MW lithium-ion battery energy storage system.

The wind and solar portions of the whole set-up will cover all of the mine’s electricity needs during peak periods and up to 60% of its annual electricity demand. The project will also allow QMM to replace most of the power it currently supplies to the nearby town of Fort Dauphin with clean energy.

The renewable energy project is a key part of QMM's "sustainable mine" initiative which includes measures on emissions reduction, waste and water management, carbon sequestration, restoration and reforestation.

"This project is important in Madagascar's development strategy, particularly within the Plan Emergence Sud, which makes access to electricity for the people of the Anosy region a priority," said Madagascar’s Minister of Energy and Hydrocarbons Andry Ramaroson.

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Plamena has been a UK-focused reporter for many years. As part of the Renewables Now team she is taking a keen interest in policy moves.

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