Rio Tinto partners to build solar project with storage in Australia

Rio Tinto partners to build a 6.7 MW solar photovoltaic plant that has the added ability to store energy

Mining firm Rio Tinto (NYSE: RIO) and engineering company Ingenero plan to build a 6.7 megawatt solar photovoltaic plant that has the added ability to store energy. First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR) is collaborating with the companies to construct the Weipa solar PV project in Queensland, Australia, which will help produce energy for Rio Tinto Alcan's (RTA) mine.

The solar plant is estimated to cost $23 million to build, Australian Mining reported. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is funding $11.8 million of the cost. 

"Rio Tinto Alcan is pleased to support the addition of renewable energy to complement the existing diesel generation at Weipa," said Gareth Manderson, general manager for Weipa operations at RTA. "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 first phase of the Weipa solar PV project will have an initial capacity of 1.7 MW that will offset up to 20 percent of electricity demand and lower overall diesel consumption. The solar plant's capacity may eventually increase to 6.7 MW. 

The Weipa solar plant is expected to be completed by late 2014.

More information on the solar PV market in Australia can be found at PennEnergy Research

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