Monday, July 15, 2024

Diavik’s photo voltaic plant is working. Officers hope it may be ‘deployed elsewhere’ when mine closes


Rio Tinto says its 3.5-megawatt photo voltaic plant, which it calls the most important off-grid photo voltaic operation within the North, is now on the Diavik Diamond Mine within the NWT.

The 6,620 photo voltaic panels are anticipated to generate 4.2 million kilowatt-hours of electrical energy per yr, in line with a press launch from the corporate — which can account for 25 p.c of the electrical energy wanted for the shutdown work scheduled to happen. between 2026 and 2029. whereas the mine remains to be in manufacturing, the plant produces 2.3 p.c of its electrical energy.

Gord Stephenson, Diavik’s senior supervisor of floor and shutdown operations, stated it was a reduction to get the plant up and working for the primary time. Rio Tinto stated in a media launch that building on the mission started in February. Solvest Inc., a photo voltaic vitality firm in Whitehorse, and Tlicho Investment Corporation have been contracted to do the work.

Stephenson described the development of the plant as an enormous logistical endeavor, which included transporting the photo voltaic panels earlier this yr on a winter highway and placing all the pieces collectively over a number of months.

He stated the photo voltaic panels are organized in 23 rows and span an space of ​​land equal to seven metropolis blocks.

Solar panels from above.
Diavik’s new solar energy plant consists of 6,620 photo voltaic panels organized in 23 rows. (Submitted by Rio Tinto)

The panels are stated to be bi-facial, that means they generate vitality straight from the solar but in addition from the sunshine mirrored by the snow throughout the winter. It can also be constructed on wire baskets full of gravel so it may be moved.

Stephenson stated Rio Tinto is on the lookout for an “applicable partnership” in order that the infrastructure could be “deployed elsewhere” as soon as the mine closes. By the time that’s anticipated to occur, the panels may have 25 years of life left.

“Definitely not trying to make a revenue from photo voltaic panels,” he stated, when requested what sort of partnership the corporate hopes for. “Beyond the character of the constructive side of the legacy, I feel that is essentially the most useful … however we’ve not made any commitments but.”

Rio Tinto turned the first to make use of the heavy emitter grant

Most of the cash for the mission — $3.3 million — got here from a carbon tax paid by Rio Tinto to the NWT authorities over the previous few years.

The territory has a share of the carbon taxes on every diamond mine between 2019 and 2023 and it’s positioned in a big emitter grant program – permitting the mines to additionally entry funds for initiatives in discount of greenhouse gases. The territory didn’t put any of its personal cash into the grant.

A woman with red hair and a black and white dress smiling.
Caroline Wawzonek, the NWT finance minister, stated it was ‘thrilling’ that the solar energy plant in Diavik was now operational. (Liny Lamberink/CBC)

Caroline Wawzonek, the NWT’s finance minister, stated Diavik was the primary of the NWT’s mines to make use of the funding. He stated the photo voltaic plant changing into operational is thrilling for a wide range of causes, together with what he described as a “enormous” discount in emissions.

Rio Tinto stated the photo voltaic plant will offset 1 million liters of diesel per yr and scale back emissions by 2,900 tonnes of carbon dioxide per yr – the equal of taking 630 vehicles off the highway.

“To have that sort of discount from an alternate vitality supply I feel could be very thrilling,” Wawzonek instructed CBC News. He stated it is laborious for governments and small communities to be first out of the gate with new applied sciences, so for trade to show new types of expertise work is useful for looking for vitality alternate options.

Wawzonek stated the NWT authorities is not allowed to have a number of emitters contribute to the grant fund due to a federal change that he considers “horrible” to know.

According to the territory newest carbon tax report, Gahcho Kue raised practically $2.1 million in funding, and Ekati raised practically $2.2 million. Wawzonek stated the 2 are making severe inquiries about reusing the funds, and so they have till spring 2028 to take action.

Rio Tinto beforehand stated its photo voltaic panel mission was the most important within the North. It now claims to be the most important off-grid photo voltaic plant within the North – Stephenson stated a grid-connected photo voltaic mission constructed within the Yukon final yr is producing extra energy than the Diavik plant. .

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