First Solar to build 200MW PV for mines in Australia

First Solar has said it will develop a series of diesel-PV hybrid power plants for mines in remote parts of Australia, according to a media report.

The thin-film module manufacturer and project developer told Bloomberg that mining firms in the country are looking to cut costs as profitability has fallen.

“In an environment where profitability isn’t what it used to be, with the mining industry focused on cost control, the electricity that powers the mines is becoming a bigger line item, and the ability to put a dent in that and hedge against fuel price volatility is something that solar offers,” said Jack Curtis, VP of business development for First Solar in the Asia Pacific.

Curtis added that project announcements in this sector were close.

The company is targeting 200MW of solar for the Australian mining sector in the next three years, according to Curtis. The systems would be paired with diesel generators.

The Australian solar industry is currently locked in a battle with the new government over cuts to financial and policy incentives for renewable energy generation.

The new conservative government vowed to repeal the country’s carbon tax and has launched a review of the national renewable energy target. Solar tariffs are decided at a state level.

Mining companies have been among the most vocal critics of the country’s low-carbon policies but look set to benefit from the cost-cutting potential of solar power in the country.

Read about First Solar’s plants in Photovoltaics International; Performance characterization and superior energy yield of First Solar PV power plants.

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