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Hybrid projects enable 50+% renewable energy use at remote Australian locations

Views: 0     Author: Andy Colthorpe     Publish Time: 2022-03-04      Origin: Energy Storage NEWS

Hybrid projects enable 50+% renewable energy use at remote Australian locations


Two recently completed hybrid projects in Australia have enabled a gold mine and a remote township to run at 50% or more average penetration of renewable energy. 

In both instances, the integration of battery energy storage systems (BESS) has been key to achieving the high threshold of solar and wind use and at times will enable the mine and township to run at 95% – 100% renewable energy.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) said last week that the microgrid at Agnew Gold Mine in Western Australia, has been successfully operating since it went online in November last year.

The project received AU$13.5 million (US$9.87 million) funding support from ARENA, which has also supported similar projects elsewhere in the country — at Weipa, a bauxite mine owned by Rio Tinto and DeGrussa, a copper and gold mine owned by Sandfire Resources. 

The first example of a remote microgrid at a mining site in the country to incorporate wind turbines as well as solar PV, 18MW of wind turbines are now paired with a 4MW solar PV plant at Agnew Gold Mine. Also on site is a 13MW/4MWh BESS, along with some gas and diesel generators (21MW) which remain in standby mode to provide backup.

As reported when initial phases of the project went into operation in September 2020, the BESS was supplied by French battery manufacturer and system integrator Saft, a subsidiary of energy major TotalEnergies.

Saft’s Intensium Max 20-ft containerised BESS equipment was used, integrated with power conversion system (PCS), transformers and MV switchgear in separate containers. The batteries help maintain power quality to mining operations while also providing spinning reserve to maintain the microgrid’s stability, which further minimises the need for thermal generators to keep running. 

Stuart Mathews, executive VP of Gold Fields, which owns the mine, described the project as a “testament to what can be achieved by taking courageous decisions and demonstrating true leadership in how we can sustainably energise our mines in remote environments,” and added that it could provide a framework for similar projects. 

Sustainable energy project company EDL carried out the project. The company’s CEO James Harman said it had been brought online on time and on budget despited bushfires and pandemic-related issues.

EDL said the microgrid is achieving its required 99.9% reliability criteria, enables between 50% and 60% renewable energy penetration. At times that figure is as high as 95%.

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