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Australia's largest off-grid solar farm powered by APA

Gas and electricity company APA Group has launched Australia’s largest remote-grid solar farm, announcing the official opening of the 88 MW Dugald River Solar Farm in outback Queensland.

Gas and electricity company APA Group has switched on Australia’s largest remote-grid solar photovoltaic plant.

The 88 MW Dugald River Solar Farm, formerly known as the Mica Creek Solar Farm, comprises 180,000 panels spread across 200 hectares of land near APA’s Diamantina gas power station outside Mount Isa in northwest Queensland.

The estimated $150 million power plant is capable of generating 240 GWh of clean energy per annum with the supply of renewable energy supporting the mining operations of resource companies MMG, Mount Isa Mines (MIM), and New Century through long-term solar off-take agreements.

APA Operations Executive Petrea Bradford said the new solar farm provides a model for the Australian resources sector to decarbonize.

“Dugald River Solar Farm is Australia’s largest remote-grid solar farm by megawatt capacity and its 184,000 panels cover an area 65 times the size of the Gabba playing surface in Brisbane,” she said.

“It is also a great example of how we are executing our strategy to support customers in the resources sector to decarbonize, which will be essential if we are to reach our net zero targets.”

APA has previously indicated that there is potential to expand the solar farm due to the strong interest from customers in the mining industry as companies seek cheaper, reliable alternatives to fossil-fuel fired alternatives.

Dr Tim Akroyd, general manager of MMG’s Dugald River zinc mining operation, said there are strong aspirations to decarbonise mining operations and continue to reduce its carbon footprint.

“The introduction of renewable energy provides both environmental and economic benefits as a 24/7 operation in a remote location and we’re already seeing the cost savings from the solar farm which is a welcome reprieve,” he said.

“Our medium-term goal is for three quarters of our power to come from renewable energy sources which will deliver further cost savings to our site and reduce our environmental footprint for our local community.”

Akroyd said  MMG is now investigating the feasibility of also building a wind farm at Dugald River, which would complement the new solar facility.

The Dugald River Solar Farm overtakes the 60 MW Chichester Solar Farm powering 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.


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