Global mining and metals company Rio Tinto announced today a new 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA), buying all of the electricity from Australia’s first gigawatt scale solar project, the Upper Calliope Solar Farm, with renewable energy developer European Energy.

According to Rio Tinto, once approved and developed, the giant solar farm would have the potential to reduce the company’s operating carbon emissions by 1.8 million tonnes per year, supporting its goal of cutting its Scope 1 and 2 emissions in half by 2030, and could help power Rio Tinto’s three Gladstone production assets, including the Boyne aluminium smelter, the Yarwun alumina refinery and the Queensland Alumina refinery.

Rio Tinto Chief Executive Jakob Stausholm said:

“This agreement is a first important step in our work to repower our Gladstone operations and illustrates our commitment to keeping sustainably powered industry in Central Queensland. The task remains challenging, but we have a pathway to provide the competitive, firmed power our Gladstone plants need and we are continuing to work hard with all stakeholders, including the Queensland and Australian governments, on getting there.”

Located approximately 50 kilometers from Gladstone, the 1.1 GW Upper Calliope solar farm, currently pending development and grid connection approvals, is expected to cover 2400 hectares, provide enough electricity to meet about 5% of Queensland’s current demand.

The project is anticipated to take 2 years to build, with construction targeted to begin in 2025 or 2026.

European Energy CEO Erik Andersen said:

“By supplying renewable energy to one of Australia’s key industrial hubs, we are setting a new standard for industrial energy consumption. This project underlines our dedication to driving the transition towards renewable energy in Australia and demonstrates the potential of solar power in transforming the energy landscape of the region.”