Fortescue Metals says it is partnering with Alinta Energy to power the iron ore giant’s WA Chichester Hub with completely renewable energy during daytime operations.
The project involves building a 60 megawatt solar generation plant at the hub, a 35 megawatt battery and a transmission line linking its Cloudbreak and Christmas Creek mines with Alinta Energy’s gas-fired power station.
Once the plant is completed in mid-2021, as much as all of the daytime energy requirements at the Chichester Hub will be provided through solar power, with the rest met through the battery and the gas power station.
The project should displace about 100 million litres of diesel fuel used in the existing Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak power stations, reducing the two mines’ carbon emissions by about 40 per cent.
Fortescue produced 1.85 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in fiscal 2019, up 10 per cent from the year before, Fortescue said in its most recent Corporate Social Responsibility Report.
That’s the equivalent of the greenhouse gas emissions for a year from 392,781 passenger cars or 0.475 coal-fired power plants, according to a calculator on the US Environmental Protection Agency’s website.
Fortescue expects its absolute emissions to increase in the short term as it expands its operations, but is committed to reaching net-zero emissions in the second half of the century, the company said in that report.
Fortescue chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said the mining giant also planned to invest $US250 million ($A366m) in energy transmission infrastructure.
A subsidiary of privately held Hong Kong conglomerate Chow Tai Fook, Alinta Energy is receiving $A24.2 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and a $A90 million loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility for the project, Fortescue said.
ARENA chief executive Darren Miller said the project could prompt further investment in renewable energy in the mining sector and other remote, energy intensive operations.
“This will also show how interconnection of loads and different generation and storage – including solar, gas and battery storage – can provide secure and reliable electricity,” he said.