First Solar and Ingenero have signed an agreement to provide solar power to Rio Tinto’s Weipa bauxite mine in Queensland. First Solar will supply thin-film solar modules to be installed by Ingerero.

The first phase of the project will generate 1.7 megawatts of electricity – enough to supply up to 20% of the daytime demand. A second phase is planned to add a further 5 megawatts with battery storage.

The project is expected to cost $23.4 million with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) contributing $3.5 million to the first phase and $7.8 million to the second phase.

ARENA, which is to be closed down by the Australian Government, has about 70 submissions, with a total of $400 million, for similar remote energy projects and First Solar is seeking to develop as much as 200 megawatts of solar power capacity for the mining industry over the next three years.