The project consists of a 10.6 MW (AC) solar PV power plant with storage at the DeGrussa Copper Mine.
Commissioned in June 2016, solar power provides the majority of the mine’s daytime electricity requirements, offsetting up to 20% of total diesel consumption annually. The project aims to increase knowledge and confidence in the use of renewable energy to power off-grid mine sites.
Remote industries in Australia currently rely on 1.2 GW of power from diesel fuel that is prone to price volatility and supply interruptions.
Renewables offer a reliable alternative to trucked-in diesel in off-grid applications. However, renewable energy mining projects face early-mover costs and barriers due to the limited number of projects globally from which to draw knowledge, experience and confidence.
Renewable energy firm juwi partnered with construction firm OTOC to construct the project, which is owned by the French renewable energy firm Neoen.
The DeGrussa mine, owned by Sandfire Resources NL, will purchase the power under a 5.5 year power purchase agreement. The solar PV plant is integrated into the existing 19 MW diesel generator facility, which is owned by independent power producer, Kalgoorlie Power Systems.
Single axis tracking and lithium ion battery storage allow more renewables to be used and will offset approximately 5 million litres of diesel fuel per annum.
A detailed knowledge sharing plan has been developed to share operational data and information about the risks, diesel savings achieved and strategies to enable higher penetrations of renewables.
The project is intended to be a world leading example that increases confidence and drives further advancements in the use of renewable energy at mine sites. The project will help drive down first-of-a-kind costs and change perceptions about the risks associated with high penetration and critical load off-grid projects. Project insights to be shared with the market will:
- Assist mining companies evaluate the risks of high penetration renewable energy integration into diesel power plants.
- Illustrate the potential diesel and cost savings achievable by renewable energy in a mining setting; and
- analyse the cost curve and key events that could enable high penetration solar PV opportunities to be economically deployed in Australia without subsidies.
Picture yourself on idyllic Rottnest Island, peering across the crystal clear blue water, wondering what exactly a quokka is.
Stepping off the coach that ferries people from the DeGrussa copper mine airport to a village designed for workers and visitors, you’re met with a dry illustration of what it’s like keeping people entertained at the frontier of civilisation – the first building you see is marked ‘GOLF SIMULATOR’.
Scores of mining leaders have descended on a remote West Australian copper mine to explore the successes and challenges of a world-leading project that shows how Australia’s largest industry can lead the way in adopting renewable energy.