Fortescue Metals Group is moving ahead with its plans to achieve net zero operational emissions by 2030, this week commissioning Contract Power Australia to deliver the big battery component of its $450 million solar and gas hybrid Pilbara Generation project.
Contract Power parent company Pacific Energy said on Thursday that it had been signed up to design, construct, test, install and commission two battery energy storage systems totalling 42MW as part of Fortescue’s integrated power network in the Pilbara region.
The Pilbara batteries will total 42MW and 13MWh and are being developed alongside 150MW of solar and 150MW of new gas-fired generation that will be owned and operated by Fortescue as part of the $450 million generation component of its $700 million Project Energy Connect.
These assets, in turn, will be integrated with the PEC Pilbara Transmission project ($250 million), which will install 275km of high voltage transmission lines connecting Fortescue’s mine sites, to enable the delivery of stable, low-cost power while also supporting the incorporation of additional large-scale renewables in the future.
Pacific Energy, which will also build the gas power component of Fortescue’s hybrid microgrid, said in a statement that a large portion of the work on the BESS would be performed by another of its subsidiaries, Hybrid Systems Australia.
Hybrid Systems executive director Michael Hall said his team would work with key suppliers Hitachi ABB Power Grids and Kokam to deliver what he said would become one of the world’s largest battery energy storage systems to be developed for an industrial application, and one of the largest to date in WA.
Kokam technology was used to build Alinta Energy’s highly successful Newman battery (35MW/11MWh) that has boosted reliability and cut costs on the grid that already serves another of Fortescue’s iron ore mines as well as Gina Rinehart’s flagship project.
The new Fortescue batteries have a similarly short duration, as their primary role will be to respond quickly to any outages of gas units, or sudden changes in the solar output.
The project extension will ties in the existing infrastructure, along with the new 60MW Chichester solar farm, visited recently by prime minister Scott Morrison, and the two new batteries and the new solar and gas installations.
Alinta has also unveiled plans to build a 100MW big battery next to its Wagerup peaking gas and diesel plant, which stands to be the second truly big battery to be built in Western Australia’s main grid, with Synergy already committed to building a 100MW/200MWh battery.
Fortescue has been working with Alinta to trial whether it can use solar and battery storage assets to run its Christmas Creek iron ore mine on solar power, alone, during the day.
In its quarterly results announcement published on Thursday, the mining giant said that commissioning activities were underway at the Chichester Solar Gas Hybrid project, with energisation expected by the end of June.
“The project… will provide a low emission energy solution, incorporating large-scale solar to displace around 100 million litres annually of diesel used in the existing Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak power stations,” Fortescue said.
Of Project Energy Connect, Fortescue said in its quarterly report that as at March 31, more than 440 of the 800 foundations for transmission poles for Stage 1 had been completed, 330 poles stood and 60 kilometres of transmission line installed.
“Fortescue announced during the quarter a target to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, positioning us as a global leader in the battle against climate change,” said the company’s CEO Elizabeth Gaines comments in the quarterly report.
“We have set out clear priorities for our pathway to decarbonisation, including the establishment of a green mining fleet through the development and assessment of hydrogen and battery electric solutions.
Hybrid Systems has been doing plenty of work with miners in Western Australia, integrating solar and storage into the mix of numerous remote mine site microgrids.
Last year, the company completed a solar and battery storage system that has succeeded in powering an open-cut kaolin clay mine and geological waste repository in the WA Goldfields-Esperance region with renewable energy only during daylight hours.