Western Australian gold mine cuts costs with solar battery hybrid system

Solar battery hybrid system powers gold mine

A gold mine in Western Australia is using a solar battery hybrid system to save money and reduce its carbon emissions.

The Granny Smith gold mine just outside Laverton, 250 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie, will harness the power of the sun to boost efficiency at its 21 MW natural gas facility.

A 7.3 MW solar installation combined with 2 MW/1 MWh battery storage is designed to meet the increased power needs of the Granny Smith mining operation.

It will also provide power to the neighbouring Wallaby underground mine as well as the nearby processing plant with associated facilities.

Solar battery hybrid system powering gold mine in WA.

A remote WA gold mine is using a solar battery hybrid system to demonstrate microgrids-as-a-service. Image: Gold Fields

According to parent company Gold Fields, the move demonstrates the company’s commitment to environmental sustainability and technological innovation.

Mine moves from diesel, to gas, to solar battery hybrid power

The remote Granny Smith mine was originally powered by diesel. A high-speed natural gas reciprocating station then replaced the old diesel power station in 2016.

British power generation firm Aggreko supplied the gas plant. The company claimed it could reduce carbon emissions by 85,845 tonnes during its ten-year contract. This would therefore make the mine eligible for the Australian Emissions Reduction fund.

However, Aggreko has worked with Gold Fields to integrate solar energy and battery storage into the existing gas power station. This is a first for the British company.

Aggreko also acquired energy storage specialist Younicos in July 2017 for £40 million.

She’ll be apples: Microgrids go for gold

Gold Fields has committed to using renewable energy for at least 20 per cent of power requirements in new projects. This is  measured over the life of the mine.

Because the company uses the latest hybrid energy technologies, its carbon footprint can be significantly reduced. Costs are also saved using the ‘microgrid-as-a-service’ model.

The new financing model is growing in popularity among government and corporate clients. It means they can access critical energy infrastructure with minimal capital outlay.

It therefore helps clients leverage the benefits of hybrid energy technology while minimising upfront costs, says Younicos Managing Director Karim Wazni.

Due to falling renewable costs, microgrids with distributed solar or co-generation can prove to be cheaper than utility power.