Gladstone, Australia – A significant advancement has been made in the plans to develop a 1.1-gigawatt solar farm in Gladstone, as mining company Rio Tinto has announced its agreement to purchase all the power generated from the site for a period of 25 years.
The Upper Calliope plant, set to become the country’s largest solar project, will be constructed and operated by European Energy Australia, a leading renewable energy company, pending necessary development and grid connection approvals. According to Rio Tinto’s news release, the plant will serve as a power source for three of its production sites: the Boyne aluminum smelter, the Yarwun alumina refinery, and the Queensland Alumina refinery.
Rio Tinto estimates that the implementation of the Upper Calliope solar farm has the potential to significantly reduce the company’s annual operating carbon emissions by approximately 1.8 million metric tons.
“We are excited to take this crucial step towards repowering our Gladstone operations, demonstrating our dedication to sustainable and environmentally friendly industrial practices in Central Queensland,” expressed Jakob Stausholm, Chief Executive of Rio Tinto.
Construction of the Upper Calliope plant is scheduled to commence either next year or in 2026. Once completed, it is anticipated that the facility will meet around 5% of Queensland’s power demand. The solar farm itself will cover an expansive area of 6,000 acres and is expected to create employment for approximately 1,000 individuals during its construction phase. Once operational, it will also provide continued support for 100 direct and indirect jobs.