Australia’s Largest Wind Energy Agreement Inked to Support Rio Tinto’s Operations

Rio Tinto, a major player in the global mining industry, made headlines with the announcement of Australia’s largest renewable energy power purchase agreement (PPA) to support its operations in Gladstone, Queensland. This groundbreaking deal involves acquiring 80 percent of the output from the 1.4-gigawatt (GW) Bungapan wind energy project developed by Windlab, a company owned by Andrew Forrest. The PPA, spanning a record-setting 25-year period, is a significant step towards Rio Tinto’s goal of transitioning its Australian refineries and smelters from coal-fired generators to renewable sources.

With a commitment to competitiveness and emissions reduction, Rio Tinto’s chief executive, Jakob Stausholm, emphasized the importance of collaborating with government entities to secure reliable power for its Gladstone plants. The company’s partnership with Windlab and European Energy is expected to reduce carbon emissions by approximately 5 million tonnes annually upon completion of the renewable energy projects.

The renewable energy initiatives will not only benefit Rio Tinto’s operations but also contribute to Queensland’s sustainable energy goals. The wind and solar farms will provide energy to key assets such as the Boyne aluminium smelter, the Yarwun alumina refinery, and the Queensland Alumina refinery. Rio Tinto views the Bungapan PPA as a significant step towards increasing renewable energy supply in Australia’s industrial centers, aligning with the company’s climate objectives of reducing global carbon emissions by 50% within this decade.

Stausholm stressed the importance of competitive capacity, firming capabilities, and robust transmission infrastructure to support large-scale renewables development in Queensland. The combined PPAs with Windlab and European Energy, totaling 2.2 GW, are expected to generate renewable energy equivalent to 10 percent of Queensland’s current power demand, marking a significant milestone in the region’s decarbonization efforts and sustainable energy usage.

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