Carnegie proposes 100MW solar, 20MWh battery near Kalgoorlie

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Western Australia-based Carnegie Clean Energy is proposing to build a 100MW solar farm and a 20MWh battery storage facility to deliver cheaper and more reliable energy to the mining operations in the heart of the state’s historic goldfields.

The ASX-listed Carnegie has signed an agreement with the WA government to develop a lease for the site next to the Mungari Strategic Industrial Area, hoping to develop a project idea that others have looked at but failed to get across the line.

It will be by far Carnegie’s biggest project to date, trumping the 10MW Northam solar farm, the newly announced 5MW micro-grid at Kalbarri and the Garden Island micro-grid project.

CEO Michael Ottaviano says the eastern Goldfields area – now a source of interest for lithium mining projects, and possibly energy-intensive lithium processing plants – has suffered from “significant electricity supply constraints”.

He said these are best solved by locally based renewables, and the addition of battery storage to ensure supply when the big connectors are cut.

“They are at the end of a long transition line … it is a single line, it’s got loads hundreds of kilometres away from where traditional generation sources, i.e. coal have been, so you get really poor reliability,” Ottaviano said in an interview with the ABC.

He said there is growing interest in off take agreements and at least 50MW of “latent, untapped demand”, and with the emergence of battery storage and lithium supplies “there is a huge opportunity for the state to be beyond mining and be a processor of lithium”.

The former energy infrastructure investment team at Investec, now part of Megawatt Capital, a part owner of the Hornsdale wind farm in South Australia, had sought to develop the 50MW Mungari project as far back as 2013.

The site also attracted interest in 2015 from a small WA-based company Exergy Power, and also from US-based SolarReserve, to develop solar tower and storage facilities. SolarReserve has since contracted to build a 150MW facility, with 8 hours storage, near Port Augusta.

Carnegie’s Ottaviano said although attempts had been made in the past, building renewable energy projects in Australia came with challenges, but the “dramatic falls” in the cost of solar had helped, and issues around land tenure were being addressed.

As this report from Investec’s mooted investment in early 2013 reveal, the cost of solar PV has fallen nearly two thirds in the past five years, and is now well below even where Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicted it would be by 2020.

“That’s the biggest change in the market,” Ottaviano told RenewEconomy.

Battery storage costs have also fallen dramatically, and are now being installed in utility scale projects such as the Tesla big battery near Hornsdale, or in various micro-grid projects and adjoining other wind and solar farms.

Ottaviano said the battery storage component would be designed to provide “slanging options” – the final configuration could change with further study.

Carnegie said the solar farm and battery storage facility would be built in the buffer zone of the Mungari Strategic Industrial Area (MSIA), which is located approximately 26km south-west of Kalgoorlie and 13km north-east of Coolgardie.

The WA Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation (JTSI), in collaboration with LandCorp, has awarded it in-principle approval to negotiate a lease for 250ha within the Buffer Zone for the solar farm.

Carnegie says the development of the Mungari solar farm is conditional on reaching suitable lease arrangements with Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage and the results of a Feasibility Study, including consultation with Western Power for grid connection.

Ottaviano told RenewEconomy he hoped to have a lease signed in the next couple of months, and move to final approval and construction towards the end of 2019.



  • john

    Because of the large fall in cost of installing solar it is obvious this will proceed then all is needed is storage.
    In a dry areas this is difficult as I am thinking PHES.
    However even without storage the daytime cost of power will plummet.
    Storage is the answer then the total cost of energy 24/7 goes down sharply.

    • Mike Dill

      Yes, build out the solar, and as the price declines in storage add more.

  • Hettie

    Very low rainfall area, so solar would be generating for most of the daylight hours. What is the overnight power consumption there, I wonder?
    The proposed battery seems small to cover o’night needs, but I guess they know what they are doing.

    • My_Oath

      “What is the overnight power consumption there, I wonder? ”

      The mines run for 24 hours a day.

    • BushAxe

      Kalgoorlie already has gas generation so I think they are targeting the battery for grid stabilisation services.

      • Hettie

        Ah. Thankyou. Information that could easily have been included in the article.

        • My_Oath

          The gas generation is privately owned – by the mining JV KCGM. It is back up for grid failures for their own uses. The public doesn’t use that energy, neither do all the other mining companies.

      • My_Oath

        That gas plant is for the Fimiston Gold Mine owned by KCGM, not for the grid, and not for any of the other mining companies.

  • Joe

    One common argument against electric vehicles is that they require more energy to make compared to ICE cars and that makes them less environmentally friendly than claimed.

    There is some validity to this. Not only do we need zero tailpipe emissions AND zero energy generation emissions, we should also strive for zero material extraction and processing emissions. This will make EVs even more “green” compared to ICEs.

    • My_Oath

      The problem with that ‘common argument’ is that they quickly overtake ICE on emissions, and the greener the grid is the greener the EV is – including manufacturing – and thats why Tesla wants to cover their roof in solar panels.