First Solar to Deliver Diesel-PV Hybrid Solution to Rio Tinto in Australia

  • First Solar, Ingenero to provide solar power to Rio Tinto Alcan bauxite mine
  • Initial phase to offset up to 20 percent of the existing grid demand and reduce diesel usage

BRISBANE, Australia--()--First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR), Rio Tinto and Ingenero today announced that agreement has been reached for the development of the Weipa Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Project in Queensland, Australia. The project has received official confirmation of funding from the Commonwealth Government, with an initial commitment of $3.5 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to be followed by an allocation of up to $7.8 million for the project’s second phase.

First Solar will leverage its expertise in utility-scale grid integration and plant control systems to offer a FuelSmart solution that provides maximum fuel savings while maintaining system reliability. Combined with Ingenero’s proven design, development and integration experience, the project will generate electricity for Rio Tinto Alcan’s (RTA) Weipa bauxite mine, processing facilities and township on the Western Cape York Peninsula.

“Rio Tinto Alcan is pleased to support the addition of renewable energy to complement the existing diesel generation at Weipa,” said RTA General Manager Weipa Operations Gareth Manderson. “We expect the use of solar power will reduce Weipa’s annual diesel consumption and its carbon dioxide emissions by around 1600 tons.” Manderson noted that the hybrid diesel/PV solution will introduce to the site a reliable source of electricity, with low maintenance requirements.

The project will have an initial capacity of 1.7 megawatts (MW) with the potential to expand by an additional 5 MW after the commissioning of the initial phase. The first phase of the project will generate sufficient electricity to offset up to 20 percent of the daytime electricity demand, while reducing the diesel consumption for every MWh of electricity produced.

“For the Weipa bauxite mine, solar PV complements the existing base-load generation by providing electricity in times of peak demand and reducing the amount of diesel fuel used,” said Jack Curtis, First Solar’s Vice President of Business Development for Asia Pacific. “First Solar is delighted to be working with Rio Tinto, ARENA and Ingenero on this landmark project that demonstrates how solar PV can be used to power the resources sector.”

“Our collaboration on the Weipa solar PV project is validation of the strength of our ongoing partnership with First Solar,” said Ingenero CEO Steve McRae. “Working together, we can provide the extensive project experience required for off-grid applications and draw on the PV module technology and utility scale experience provided by First Solar.”

With completion scheduled for late 2014, First Solar will supply its advanced thin-film PV modules and other balance of system components, in addition to providing operation and maintenance services for the duration of the project.

RTA will purchase the electricity under a 15 year Power Purchase Agreement. The project is one which all partners see as a step towards energy alternatives for remote mining operations.

About First Solar, Inc.

First Solar is a leading global provider of comprehensive photovoltaic (PV) solar systems which use its advanced module and system technology. The company’s integrated power plant solutions deliver an economically attractive alternative to fossil-fuel electricity generation today. From raw material sourcing through end-of-life module recycling, First Solar’s renewable energy systems protect and enhance the environment. For more information about First Solar, please visit www.firstsolar.com.

About Rio Tinto Alcan

Rio Tinto Alcan is a global leader in the aluminum business and is one of five product groups operated by Rio Tinto, an international mining group. Rio Tinto Alcan’s Weipa bauxite mine is located on Western Cape York Peninsula. It is committed to sustainable development principles and continues to develop better ways of looking after the environment and partnering with its community stakeholders. For more information about Rio Tinto Alcan, please visit www.riotintoalcan.com.

About Ingenero

Ingenero is an Australian leader in the delivery of solar energy for commercial, industrial, utility and residential customers. Ingenero has simplified the way customers can lock in lower, long-term rates for electricity through innovative financial products such as solar leasing and Solar Power Purchase Agreements. Ingenero provides a wide range of solar implementation services including design, supply and installation of turnkey systems and ongoing monitoring and maintenance services. For more information about Ingenero, please visit www.ingenero.com.au.

About ARENA

ARENA was established by the Australian Government as an independent authority on 1 July 2012 to make renewable energy technologies more affordable and increase the amount of renewable energy used in Australia. ARENA is funded to 2022 to invest in renewable energy projects, support research and development activities, and increase industry and community knowledge about renewable energy. For more information about ARENA, please visit www.arena.gov.au.

For First Solar Investors

This release contains forward-looking statements which are made pursuant to safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements include statements, among other things, concerning: our business strategy, including anticipated trends and developments in and management plans for our business and the markets in which we operate; future financial results, operating results, revenues, gross margin, operating expenses, products, projected costs, warranties, solar module efficiency and balance of systems ("BoS") cost reduction roadmaps, restructuring, product reliability and capital expenditures; our ability to continue to reduce the cost per watt of our solar modules; our ability to reduce the costs to construct photovoltaic ("PV") solar power systems; research and development programs and our ability to improve the conversion efficiency of our solar modules; sales and marketing initiatives; and competition. These forward-looking statements are often characterized by the use of words such as "estimate," "expect," "anticipate," "project," "plan," "intend," "believe," "forecast," "foresee," "likely," "may," "should," "goal," "target," "might," "will," "could," "predict," "continue" and the negative or plural of these words and other comparable terminology. Forward-looking statements are only predictions based on our current expectations and our projections about future events. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. We undertake no obligation to update any of these forward-looking statements for any reason. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors that may cause our actual results, levels of activity, performance, or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these statements. These factors include, but are not limited to, the matters discussed in Item 1A: "Risk Factors," of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2013, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and other reports filed with the SEC.

Contacts

First Solar Media
Burson-Marsteller for First Solar
Jennifer Pooley
+61 2 9928 1590
jennifer.pooley@bm.com
or
Deepali Girdhar
+91 8800 843600
deepali.girdhar@firstsolar.com
or
Rio Tinto Media
Graham Witherspoon
+61 (0) 467 811 860
graham.witherspoon@riotinto.com
or
Ingenero Media
Lauren Tunney
+61 7 3188 3315
Lauren.tunney@ingenero.com.au
or
First Solar Investors
David Brady
+1 602 414 9315
dbrady@firstsolar.com

Release Summary

First Solar to Deliver Diesel-PV Hybrid Solution to Rio Tinto in Australia

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Contacts

First Solar Media
Burson-Marsteller for First Solar
Jennifer Pooley
+61 2 9928 1590
jennifer.pooley@bm.com
or
Deepali Girdhar
+91 8800 843600
deepali.girdhar@firstsolar.com
or
Rio Tinto Media
Graham Witherspoon
+61 (0) 467 811 860
graham.witherspoon@riotinto.com
or
Ingenero Media
Lauren Tunney
+61 7 3188 3315
Lauren.tunney@ingenero.com.au
or
First Solar Investors
David Brady
+1 602 414 9315
dbrady@firstsolar.com