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Rio Tinto builds off-grid solar plant in Canada’s North

3rd July 2024

By: Creamer Media Reporter

     

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Diversified miner Rio Tinto has completed installation of a 3.5 MW capacity solar power plant at the Diavik mine, in Canada’s Northwest Territories.

The project represents the largest off-grid solar power plant across Canada’s territories.

The 6 620-panel facility is expected to generate 4.2-million kilowatt-hours a year of solar energy, reducing diesel consumption at Diavik by one-million litres a year and cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2 900 t of CO2 equivalent. This is comparable to removing 630 cars from the road each year.

The solar power plant will provide up to 25% of Diavik’s electricity during closure work, with commercial production at the mine expected to end in 2026 and closure to run until 2029.

The facility is equipped with bi-facial panels which not only generate energy from direct sunlight, but also from the light that reflects off the snow that covers Diavik for most of the year.

The solar project complements a wind power plant at Diavik, which has been operating since 2012 and is the largest wind power installation in Canada’s North, having generated over 195 million kilowatt-hours of electricity since activation.

“The largest off-grid solar power plant in Canada’s North is our latest commitment to the environment we live and work in, and will improve the energy efficiency of our operations at Diavik. We are proud to lead the way for large-scale renewable-energy projects in Canada’s North,” said Diavik COO Matthew Breen.

The project was supported by C$3.3-million in funding from the government of the Northwest Territories’ Large Emitters GHG Reducing Investment Grant Programme.

It is the first project in the Northwest Territories to benefit from funding from the Large Emitters Grant, which sets aside a portion of carbon tax paid by large operations such as Diavik for projects that commit to GHG reduction projects in the territory.

Construction began in February, contracted to Whitehorse-based Solvest and the Indigenous-owned Tłıchǫ Investment Corporation, with support from Diavik. About 30% of the construction workforce came from the Tłıchǫ Investment.

Diavik is working with the government of the Northwest Territories and community partners to determine how its renewable-energy infrastructure can best benefit the region following closure.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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