First stage of unique solar-wind-battery hybrid project opens at Agnew gold mine

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EDL launches first stage of hybrid micro-grid project that will integrate solar, wind and battery storage to power remote gold mine in WA.

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A 23MW hybrid generation project developed by EDL at the Agnew gold mine has commenced operations, integrating solar into a gas and diesel micro-grid that will eventually add wind and solar in the first of its type project for a mine.

The first stage of the project incorporates a 4MW solar farm, with supply supplemented by a 16MW of gas and 3MW diesel generation capacity, with plans already in progress to expand the microgrid’s use of renewable energy as part of the $112 million project located in the northern Goldfields region of Western Australia.

“With this project, EDL and Gold Fields are leading the way towards clean, renewable energy to power remote, off-grid mining operations without compromising reliability or power quality,” EDL CEO James Harman said.

The project will supply power to the Agnew gold mine, which is owned by the company Gold Fields. The company’s executive vice president Stuart Mathews said that he hoped the project would lead to other mines integrating renewables into their power supplies.

“This is a significant milestone for both the Agnew gold mine and the broader Gold Fields Group, demonstrating our ongoing commitment to strengthening our energy security, optimising energy costs and reducing our carbon footprint through the adoption of new technologies,” Mathews said.

“We are hopeful that this will also enable other companies to consider the options for decarbonising their operations.”

The next stage of the project, which is already under construction, will see EDL add an additional 18MW of wind generation, a 13MW/4MWh battery storage system and will include the deployment of advanced micro-grid control software.

Concept image of the final project. Credit: EDL

When the second stage of the project is completed, which is anticipated in 2020, the project will supply the Agnew goal mine with more than 50 per cent renewable electricity.

The project has received funding support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which provided $13.5 million in recoupable finance to the project.

The Agnew micro-grid project will supply electricity to the Agnew mine over the next 10-years.

The project is part of a wider trend that has seen remote resources projects supplement or completely replace costly diesel or gas generators with renewable energy generators paired with battery storage.

The project was also welcomed by the Western Australian minister for energy Bill Johnston, who attended the launch of the hybrid project.

“I congratulate Gold Fields and EDL for their collaborative work in completing stage one of this incredibly innovative project,” Johnston said. “The McGowan Government is supportive of mining and resources companies that are embracing renewable energy solutions, particularly when it helps reduce their carbon emissions.”

“This innovative, Australia-first project is setting the standard for powering mine sites throughout Western Australia.”

EDL Energy currently operates just over 1,000MW of generation capacity across Australia, Europe and Northern America. The company gained its foothold in Australia through the development of biogas projects, including landfill gas generation, along with waste coal mine gas projects.

The company has since expanded to provide off-grid and micro-grid generation projects to a range of remote mining operations.

EDL previously completed a similar solar-wind-battery hybrid project in Coober Pedy, which integrated 4MW of wind, 1MW of solar and a 1MW/500kWh battery, to take the remote South Australian mining town to 100 per cent renewable electricity.

EDL noted that the Coober Pedy hybrid project had provided a more reliable supply of electricity compared to the diesel power station it replaced.

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