Alinta Energy and Fortescue switch on Western Australia’s largest remote solar farm

Chichester Solar Farm

The 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’s MD & CEO, Jeff Dimery, said the commencement of operations was a giant leap forward in the race to a low carbon energy future.

“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.”

“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.“

The project 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.”

NAIF Acting CEO Amanda Copping said the commencement of operations at the solar farm is a major boost towards a low carbon energy future.

She said, “NAIF was an early supporter of the project and we congratulate all the parties on building a benchmark renewable project in the Pilbara. The project is an example of what can be achieved when business partners with Government and financing agencies. We are delighted to see another NAIF supported project become operational.”

The project also included the construction of approximately 60 kilometres of new transmission lines to link Fortescue’s Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak mines to the solar farm and Alinta Energy’s existing network infrastructure.

Interesting facts:

  • The Pilbara is one of the sunniest regions in Australia, approx. 4015 hours per year
  • Solar farm has over 160,000 solar panels
  • Solar Farm PV panel area is 120Ha
  • The Solar Farm is on Nyiyaparli Country
  • $4.7m contract value awarded to Indigenous owned enterprises
  • The project was delivered safely, during a pandemic, with
    • over 500 construction workers
    • more than 570,000 hours worked
    • zero lost time injuries

More than great energy.

That’s better™.