First Solar Australia has a new partner in the project to convert a Rio Tinto bauxite mine to solar, after ASX-listed investment group Tag Pacific signed up to begin construction on the ground-breaking solar PV plus storage plant.
The $23.4 million, ARENA-funded project involves the construction of an initial 1.7MW solar array at the Weipa, North Queensland mine, at a cost of $4 million. A possible second stage, which would add 5MW of solar PV and some battery storage, and be worth $17 million, is planned by First Solar but is not included in the new deal.
Tag Pacific picked up the construction role in the project after acquiring some of the assets of Ingenero, a one-time leading Australian solar developer that was placed under administration less than two months ago.
As we reported in July, Ingenero’s collapse shocked the industry, especially considering the Queensland-based company’s reach across Australia’s commercial, industrial, utility and residential solar markets.
As well as its plans to install the ground-breaking solar plus storage facility for Rio Tinto, Ingenero’s installations included the Fraser Coast 400 kW Community Solar Farm, 235 kW Alice Springs Airport concentrator photovoltaic solar farm and a rooftop solar power system (1.5 MW) at the University of Queensland.
It also installed a solar PV tracking plant at Kangaroo Island airport to provide clean electricity to charge electric vehicles. And it was one of the leaders in the solar leasing market.
Chris MacDonnell from the Sydney-based insolvency specialist Restructuring Solutions is now managing the business, and has taken control of all assets, including its leasing contracts with Barcoo Council and others.
The assets sold to Tag include an experienced project team, with the capability to win and manage large-scale solar projects such as Weipa – the first solar project of its size in Australia for a remote mining site – and intellectual property.
“By picking up this construction role, we have cemented an important first step in the delivery of large-scale solar power projects for the mining sector,” Tag’s CEO Nathan Wise said.
“MPower (a Tag sub-group purpose built to provide reliable power systems for critical applications) has already won major awards for its innovative work in both grid connected and off-grid remote hybrid solar projects,” Wise said.
“The Weipa project is a further step towards establishing a meaningful revenue stream in this area.”
Construction on the Weipa project will commence immediately and is scheduled to be completed in the first half of 2015.