Australia’s largest remote-grid solar power plant, Dugald River, opened officially

Home » News » Australia’s largest remote-grid solar power plant, Dugald River, opened officially

Dugald River Solar Farm, Australia’s largest remote-grid solar power plant has reportedly been opened officially.

The 88 MW power plant formerly known as the Mica Creek Solar Farm was officially opened by APA Group, a leading Australian energy infrastructure business that owns and/or operates a $25 billion portfolio of gas, electricity, solar and wind assets.

It overtakes the 60 MW Chichester Solar Farm that provides energy for Fortescue Metals iron ore mines in Western Australia’s Pilbara region as the largest solar farm not located on either of the country’s two main grids.

Dugald River Solar Farm location, capacity and power distribution

Australia’s largest remote-grid solar power plant sits on a 200-hectare site near APA’s Diamantina gas power station outside Mount Isa in northwest Queensland.  This is one of the richest mining regions in the world, best known for its high-quality critical mineral deposits such as copper, zinc, vanadium, and phosphate. The power plant is made up of a total of 180,000 solar panels and has the capacity to generate about 240 GWh of clean energy per annum.

Electricity generated by the Dugald River Solar Farm will be connected to the grid through a 1,100 km overhead transmission line and supplied to major mining groups in the region including, Mount Isa Mines, New Century and MMG Limited through long-term solar off-take agreements.

Mount Isa Mines Limited is an Australian company that operates the Mount Isa copper, lead, zinc and silver mines near Mount Isa, Queensland, as part of the Glencore group of companies. New Century Resources Limited is a company that operates as a base metal development and production company not only in Australia but also in the United States.

Lastly, MMG Limited is a mid-tier global resources company that mines explores and develops base metal projects around the world. Reportedly, MMG has a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) for half of the Dugald River Solar Farm’s capacity.

Model for the Australian resources sector to decarbonize

Speaking on the project, APA Operations Executive Petrea Bradford said that the new solar farm provides a model for the Australian resources sector to decarbonize and reach their net-zero targets.

Dr Tim Akroyd, general manager of MMG’s Dugald River zinc mining operation also commented on the project. He said that there are strong aspirations to decarbonize mining operations and to continue to reduce its carbon footprint. In addition, the MMGs GM said that the introduction of renewable energy provides both environmental and economic benefits as a 24/7 operation in a remote location and that they are already seeing the cost savings from the solar farm which is a welcome reprieve.

“Our medium-term goal is to have three-quarters of our power coming from renewable energy sources that will deliver further cost savings to our site and also reduce our environmental footprint for our local community,” explained Tim Akroyd adding that MMG is currently investigating the feasibility of building a wind farm at Dugald River, which would complement the new solar facility.

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