Mining operations can benefit from renewable grid

DeGrussa Copper-Gold Mine
DeGrussa Copper-Gold Mine

The first of 34,080 solar PV panels have been installed at Australia’s largest renewables mining project, based in central Western Australia.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing $20.9 million to support the $40 million project, which will see 10.6MW of solar PV with storage installed at the DeGrussa Copper-Gold Mine.

Construction of the 10.6MW solar plant is well underway. Around 4700 steel posts are installed and mounting of the single-axis tracking system and solar panels has begun.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the project was shaping up to be a leading example of how mining operations can benefit from renewable energy.

“This is another demonstration of how rapidly construction of solar PV plants can advance in remote locations once projects are underway. The plant at Degrussa is expected to be up and running in a little more than seven months from commencement,” he said.

“Solar and storage can offer a clear win-win in many off-grid applications by providing more predictable running costs that are often cheaper in the long-term compared to diesel generators.”

Knowledge sharing was an integral part of the project ARENA has identified could drive down the cost of future projects and help increase the mining industry’s confidence in renewables.

“Performance data will make it easier for mining companies to evaluate the risks of integrating renewable energy with existing diesel generation and illustrate the potential diesel and cost savings that can be achieved,” Mr Frischknecht said.

Solar engineering company juwi is responsible for the engineering, procurement, construction, operation and maintenance of the facility. OTOC will undertake all surveying and onsite construction and installation services. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has committed up to $15 million in debt finance towards the project.

The project reached financial close in July 2015 and is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2016.