ARENA gives USD 16.5m to solar-and-gas project in W Australia

October 18 (Renewables Now) – The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has agreed to provide AUD 24.2 million (USD 16.5m/EUR 14.9m) in funding to support the development of a solar and gas hybrid facility that will supply power for iron ore mining operations in the Pilbara region, Western Australia.

The funds will go to Alinta Energy Pilbara Finance Pty Ltd, a unit of power and gas retailer Alinta Energy Pty Ltd, for the construction of a 60-MW solar photovoltaic (PV) farm and new transmission infrastructure that will connect mines belonging to Fortescue Metals Group Ltd (ASX:FMG).

ARENA said Friday that around 60 kilometres (37.3 miles) of new transmission lines will run from the solar farm to Fortescue’s two mine sites, Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak, in the company’s Chichester mining hub. The project will also link the Chichester Hub mines and the Roy Hill iron ore mining project with Alinta’s existing 145-MW gas-fired Newman Power Station and a 35-MW/11-MWh battery storage system.

The project will also receive financial support from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) in form of a loan of up to AUD 90 million.

As the off-taker of the electricity from the project, Fortescue will be able to meet its daytime power needs with up to 100% renewable electricity. It will rely on gas generation for the rest. The company is expected to cut its diesel use by around 100 million litres per year, as diesel generators are currently the only source of power at the mine sites, according to ARENA.

Construction is slated to begin before the year’s end and wrap up by mid-2021.

(AUD 1.0 = USD 0.68/EUR 0.61)

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