Published: 6:16 am, Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Australia’s first commercial diesel displacement solar plant has successfully started supplying electricity for a remote far north Queensland mine.
Rio Tinto announced on Tuesday that the Weipa Solar Plant had begun generating power for its Weipa bauxite mine, its processing facilities and the township on the western side of Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula.
Rio Tinto’s general manager for Weipa operations, Gareth Manderson, says the 1.7 megawatt capacity plant has the ability to generate enough electricity to support up to 20 per cent of the town’s daytime electricity demand.
“We expect the energy from the solar plant will help reduce the diesel usage at Weipa’s power stations and save up to 600,000 litres of diesel each year,” Mr Manderson said.
“This will reduce Weipa’s greenhouse gas emissions by around 1600 tonnes per year – equivalent to removing around 700 cars.”
The plant is expected to produce about 2800 megawatt hours of electricity a year.
The electricity from the plant’s 18,000 photovoltaic modules that have been connected to Rio Tinto’s existing mini-grid will be purchased by the mining giant under a 15-year agreement.
The modules are combined with a fossil-fuel engine generator to optimise fuel savings, while maintaining system reliability.