Australia is becoming a global leader in mining sector renewables as falling solar energy prices drive rapid change.
Public opinion and cost savings are encouraging more Australian mining operators to assess and invest in renewable energy like solar power and battery storage.
Because the cost of solar PV modules is falling by 3 to 8 per cent each year, a hybrid plant could save mine operators up to 75 per cent on fuel bills.
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, commercial battery storage is also becoming more viable. Projected figures price lithium-ion batteries at around $73 USD/kWh by 2040 compared to about $250 USD/kWh in 2017.
As reported by Energy and Mines, a spate of renewable project announcements will be showcased at the second annual Energy and Mines Australia Summit in Perth from June 27-28.
Strong renewable pipeline for Australia’s mining sector
Presenters from a wide range of mining companies, including BHP, Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto, will speak at the summit, alongside global clean energy experts. The following projects will be discussed.
- A 3MW solar farm has been announced at Queensland’s Cannington mine. When finished it will be the second largest solar project for a remote, off-grid Australian mine.
- A 3-4MW solar farm will complete the Boonanarring mine and processing plant which is currently being constructed north of Perth, WA. This should deliver around 25 per cent of the facility’s electricity.
- A long-term power purchase agreement for wind and solar has been set up by GMA Garnet. This will lock in energy prices for the next 13 years for its WA operations.
- A solar panel and solar battery storage facility has been announced for South Australia’s Prominent Hill mine. The mine is also the first resource company to sign a transmission cost partnership with a renewables developer.
- A portable and scalable solar power system will supply energy for the reopening of the Century mine close to Mt Isa, Queensland. This should cost an estimated $120/MWh compared to the $400/MWh the company paid for diesel.
- Mt Lyell on Tasmania’s west coast could be Australia’s first zero-emissions mine as a result of renewable investment.
Mines can take control of future using renewable energy
The growing renewables boom will also help mines take control of their electricity supply, claims the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). According to the industry body, mines will:
- Avoid increases in wholesale power prices.
- Gain security of supply.
- Reduce exposure to grid related power outages.
- Avoid mandated curtailment during peak demand.
- Potentially create a new income stream for grid connected operations.