A monumental off-grid renewable mining project has been successfully completed in remote Western Australia, demonstrating a confluence between established and emerging Australian industries.
More than 34,000 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels have been installed at the DeGrussa copper-gold mine alongside 6 MW (1.8 MWh) of new battery storage. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is supporting the $40 million project with $20.9 million recoupable grant funding and the CEFC has committed $15 million in debt finance.
ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the successful commissioning marked a turning point for the use of renewable energy in off-grid industries.
“This is a clear example of renewables providing substantial, reliable results for one of Australia’s largest industries,” Mr Frischknecht said.
“The project has achieved a series of firsts. It’s the largest off-grid solar PV system in the world and one of the largest solar plants providing peak power load to a mining operation.
“The project was constructed in 10 months and delivered on budget, despite being located in remote Australia.
“Cutting-edge technology is being demonstrated at the site, with advanced lithium-ion batteries storing solar power and sun-tracking solar PV panels maximising plant output. Smart control systems are linking these components with the existing diesel plant to maximise the amount of renewable energy delivered.
“Mine owner Sandfire Resources is benefitting from more predictable power costs and is anticipating potential cost savings through reduced reliance on trucked-in diesel.
“ARENA supports first-of-a-kind projects like this because they are crucial for increasing confidence amongst industry, project developers, investors and financers.
“The mining industry has been watching the progress at Degrussa. Sandfire has already fielded enquiries from other miners looking to take advantage of renewable energy and tap into Sandfire’s experience.
“We’re helping to share project lessons with the industry to speed up this process and further capitalise on ARENA’s funding support.”
Power is being provided to the mine under a 6 year power purchase agreement. If the mine continues operating past this point, ARENA funding will be paid back as the power plant continues to generate solar energy.
The DeGrussa Solar Power Project is owned by the leading French renewable energy firm Neoen, with juwi Renewable Energy responsible for the project development, EPC and O&M. The plant was constructed by national surveying and infrastructure construction company OTOC Limited.
About the CEFC
The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) invests commercially to increase the flow of funds into renewable energy, energy efficiency and low emissions technologies. The CEFC has supported projects across the Australian economy, benefitting a diverse range of businesses, large and small.
The CEFC’s mission is to accelerate Australia’s transformation towards a more competitive economy in a carbon constrained world, by acting as a catalyst to increase investment in emissions reduction.
The CEFC does this through direct investments which attract private sector finance, as well as through its strategic co-financing partners. The CEFC was created by the Australian Government and operates under the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012.
More information is available at the CEFC website.
About Sandfire Resources
Sandfire Resources (ASX Ticker: SFR) is a leading mid-tier Australian mining company which operates the high-grade, low cost DeGrussa Copper-Gold Mine in Western Australia. Sandfire Resources is developing a global portfolio of high quality resource assets as the foundation for its longer term vision to build a diversified international mining house.
Neoen is an independent power producer, generating electricity from renewable sources (solar, wind or biomass). Neoen develops, finances, builds and operates plants and is active in France, Portugal, Australia, Mexico, Egypt, Mozambique, Jamaica, Zambia, Jordan and El Salvador. With a current operating base of 759 MW, Neoen seeks to achieve installed power of over 1000MW by 2017.
Founded in 2008, the company is a subsidiary of Impala SAS (www.impala-sas.com), a diversified investment group with over 6000 employees and a global presence, of Bpifrance, the French public investment bank, and of private equity firm Omnes Capital.
The juwi Group is one of the world’s leading renewable energy companies specialising in the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (“EPC”) of utility-scale projects. With approximately 1,000 employees worldwide, juwi has been involved in the development, design, construction and operation of more than 1,500 solar PV projects and the installation of more than 700 wind turbines with a cumulated capacity of over 3,300MW.
OTOC is a leading provider of infrastructure construction and renewable energy services to government, resources, energy, utilities and remote area clients. Our Australasian footprint allows us to leverage our wealth of experience to deliver the highest quality service across critical support infrastructure projects. OTOC prides itself on delivering complete infrastructure solutions through the ability to partner with clients on all project stages, from design through to construction and ongoing maintenance. OTOC also provides premium surveying, aerial mapping, laser scanning, town planning and urban design services nationally across all sectors. OTOC Limited is listed on the ASX with ticker OTC.