Following four months into construction of the 10.6 MW solar + 6 MW battery at the off-grid DeGrussa Copper-Gold Mine in Australia, the operator says the project is on track for completion in Q1 2016, as racking is 50% complete and the first panels have been mounted.
This project may stand as a renewable energy showcase for the mining industry. Backers say renewable energy is competitive with traditional fossil fuels in many off-grid and mining applications globally. Here in Australia, mining concern Sandfire Resources NL contracted with the German-based juwi Group to develop this 10.6 MW solar hybrid system to integrate with an existing 19 MW diesel-fired power station at its DeGrussa Mine.
Single axis tracking and a 6 MW battery will be used to maximize the use of low-cost solar power to provide the majority of daytime electricity. This will significantly reduce the mine’s diesel consumption by over 20%.
The juwi Group has announced that construction of the new 10.6 MW solar power station in Western Australia has reached a key milestone with installation of the first solar photovoltaic (PV) panels now underway.
An Innovative $40 Million Project
This hybrid renewable energy project is considered to be one of the largest integrated off-grid solar and battery storage facilities in the world. Some 34,080 PV panels will cover an area of over 20 hectares (49.4 acres) at a site adjacent to the DeGrussa underground mine and processing plant.
Project construction commenced in mid-July and included the installation of 4700 steel posts in diagonal arrays to mount the solar PV panels on a single-axis tracking system. This system allows the panels to track the sun during the day.
When the project was launched, juwi Group COO Stephan Hansen said: “We see great potential in utility-scale solar hybrid systems, as the generation costs with diesel power plants will continually rise. In contrast to this, electricity production with solar plants already represents an economically viable solution for many energy intensive corporations in the mining, agricultural or tourism industry.”
Installation of the solar modules is expected to be complete early in 2016, with other items to be installed in the coming months, including the solar inverter to change the electric current from DC to AC, transformers, and other electrical accessories and control systems.
Bench-scale test-work is also well underway as part of an ongoing work program to seamlessly integrate the new solar power facility, the battery storage facility and the diesel-fired power station.
The system has been designed with the diesel-fired power station continuing to provide base-load power to the DeGrussa mine with sufficient minimum load to ensure it can respond quickly to meet the power requirements of the process plant and underground mine.
Andrew Drager, managing director of juwi Australia, states the system is at the forefront of “transforming the remote power generation sector and the resource industry into one with a sustainable future.” juwi will build and operate the solar and battery facility.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has provided $20.9 million in funding, to be repaid if the mine continues beyond the initial six-year term. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the French IPP Neoen are providing the remainder of the project funds.
The innovative project is expected to set a new benchmark for the use of renewable energy at remote mine sites in the resource sector, reducing diesel consumption and cutting carbon emissions at DeGrussa by more than 12,000 tonnes of CO2 annually.
Images via the juwi Group