Rio Tinto buys entire output of Australia’s largest solar farm

Solar panel render with sunlight shining on the panels (rio tinto)
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Rio Tinto will drive development of Australia’s largest solar power project near Gladstone, after agreeing to buy all electricity from the 1.1GW Upper Calliope Solar Farm to provide renewable power its Gladstone operations.

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Under a new power purchase agreement (PPA) signed with European Energy Australia, the mining giant will buy all power generated from the Upper Calliope solar farm for 25 years. The plant will be built and operated by European Energy, at a site about 50km south-west of Gladstone, pending development and grid connection approvals.

The agreement marks a step towards Rio Tinto’s goal of halving its global Scope 1 & 2 carbon emissions this decade. It could also provide the core of a solution to repower Rio Tinto’s three Gladstone production assets—the Boyne aluminium smelter, the Yarwun alumina refinery and the Queensland Alumina refinery.

Rio Tinto CEO Jakob Stausholm said, “This agreement is a first important step in our work to repower our Gladstone operations and illustrates our commitment to keeping sustainably powered industry in Central Queensland.

“The task remains challenging, but we have a pathway to provide the competitive, firmed power our Gladstone plants need and we are continuing to work hard with all stakeholders, including the Queensland and Australian governments, on getting there.

“Competitive capacity, firming, and transmission, are critical to developing a modern energy system that can ensure more large-scale renewables development in Queensland and help guarantee the future of Australian industry.”

Related article: Stanwell progresses renewable hydrogen in Gladstone

Once approved, construction of the Upper Calliope Solar Farm is targeted to start in 2025 or 2026 and, when complete, it will provide enough electricity to meet about 5% of Queensland’s current demand.

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