Rio Tinto unit signs up for 148 MW of solar


South Africa's Richards Bay Minerals, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, has joined the list of miners set to go solar after signing a 20-year power purchase agreement to take clean electricity from French developer Voltalia.

Paris-based Voltalia said this week that it has secured a PPA from the titanium dioxide miner to take 300 GWh per year of clean electricity from a 148 MW solar project it plans to build in South Africa's Limpopo province.

The developer did not disclose the financial terms of the deal, but it said the electricity would be delivered through the grid under a wheeling arrangement. South Africa recently updated its electricity regulations to permit wheeling and to ease the process by which independent power producers can supply energy to corporate clients.

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Richards Bay Minerals will use the clean electricity to power its smelting and processing facilities in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province, said Voltalia. The French company said that around 700 construction jobs and about 50 permanent positions would be associated with the 148 MW solar project.

Voltalia added that it will locally source the solar panels and related services for the project. It described the planned installation as “the largest renewable energy site dedicated to a corporate client in South Africa.”

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