Anglo-Australian multinational mining group Rio Tinto has announced the construction of its hybrid wind-solar power plant project in Madagascar has been started. The project consists of an 8 MW solar photovoltaic plant and a 12 MW wind farm, where both facilities will be connected to an 8.25 MWh battery storage.
The hybrid wind-solar plant is owned 80% by Rio Tinto and 20% by the Government of Madagascar. The electricity produced by the hybrid power plant is expected to cover 60% of the annual energy consumption of the QIT Madagascar Minerals (QMM) in Fort Dauphin, located in the Anosy region of Madagascar.
The solar photovoltaic array featuring 18,000 solar panels is set to be installed in 2022 and the 12 MW wind farm consisting of 5 turbines will be commissioned by 2023. The project is being built by independent power producer CrossBoundary Energy (CBE), under a build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) model, through a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with QMM.
The Governor of the Anosy region, Jocelyn Raharimbola, said, “Thanks to this public-private funded project, we are aiming for less load shedding on the network and a reduction in the price per kWh, to make the price of electricity accessible to everyone and attractive to all investors.”
Stéphane Leblanc, MD of Rio Tinto Iron & Titanium Minerals, said, “The Fort-Dauphin mine could be the first in the group to become carbon neutral in 2023.” He noted that the company has raised its targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15% till 2025 and by 50% by the end of 2030.
QMM aims to reduce its annual CO2 emissions by nearly 26,000 tons and bring down its purchases of heavy fuel oil by 8,500 tons per year. QMM and CBE are working with local authorities to develop manufacturing capabilities for equipment for the renewable energy industry at Ehoala Park, fostering local expertise.
Many mining industries operating in Africa are opting for renewable energy to reduce their carbon footprint and work toward the goal of a carbon-neutral energy system.