Chichester Hub Solar Farm switches on

Solar panels and staff at Chichester Hub Solar Farm

Western Australia’s largest solar farm on a remote network, the 60MW Alinta Energy Chichester Hub Solar Farm in the Pilbara region, has begun production for Fortescue Metals Group.

The Chichester Hub Solar Farm has already powered up to 100 per cent of daytime operations at Fortescue’s Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak mines, and will displace around 100 million litres of diesel every year. Supply will be backed up by battery storage and gas generation at Alinta Energy’s Newman Power Station.

Alinta Energy managing director and CEO Jeff Dimery said the commencement of operations was a giant leap forward in the race to a low carbon energy future.

Related article: AGL and Fortescue to turn coal plants into green hydrogen hub

“We took an ambitious brief from Fortescue, who wanted to dramatically slash their emissions, and made it a reality in just three years. I can’t understate the engineering challenge of designing and building a renewable solution on this scale, in a harsh environment like the Pilbara, to meet the reliability standards of mines like these.

“I’m very proud of the team, our partners and customer Fortescue, our lead contractor Downer and their subcontractors and suppliers, NAIF, ARENA, the pastoralist Roy Hill Station and in particular the Nyiyaparli People on whose Country the solar farm sits.

“I want to thank those who spent unexpectedly long periods away from their families due to COVID restrictions to keep the project moving forward.

“Together, we’ve built a benchmark renewable project with an ambitious partner, and given the abundance of high quality renewables resources in the Pilbara we look forward to supporting others to do the same.”

Related article: Alinta eyeing 1GW Spinifex Offshore Wind Farm

Chichester Hub Solar Farm received funding from NAIF as well as ARENA as part of its Advancing Renewables Program.

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) CEO Darren Miller said, “This is a monumental step forward to see solar and battery storage help to displace diesel on mining sites. Optimising the transition to renewable electricity has been a key priority for ARENA and we are excited to see the Alinta Energy and Fortescue project now successfully using solar energy for the day-to-day operations of the mines.”

Chichester Hub Solar Farm also included the construction of approximately 60km of new transmission lines to link Fortescue’s Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak mines to the solar farm and Alinta Energy’s existing network infrastructure.