27.11.2017 / Blog, Off-Grid, Solar
Mine operators discover renewable energies – for several good reasons.
In 2016, juwi built the world’s largest hybrid power plant to date for a mine operator. The project was completed in the in the Australian outback at the DeGrussa Copper and Gold Mine of for Sandfire Resources NL. A 10.6-megawatt solar farm on single axis trackers and a six-megawatt battery system supplements the existing Diesel power station of the mine. A groundbreaking project? We asked Amiram Roth-Deblon, who is responsible for new business initiatives and especially hybrid solutions at juwi.
There are several very good reasons. Modern photovoltaic or wind power plants combined with battery storage can now generate power more cost effective than many diesel or gas- power stations.
The technology and our know-how have developed to a point where our plants now meet even the most stringent demands of mine operators. A juwi hybrid system can also be combined with existing diesel, HFO or gas power plants to provide a secure and reliable power supply where no public grid is available. Just imagine the cost of transporting millions of liters of fuel to a point somewhere in the Australian outback.
Our experts integrated a 10.6-megawatt solar farm with a six-megawatt battery storage facility into the customer’s existing diesel grid for the DeGrussa mine. The system, which also tracks the sun, now covers about 20% of the mine’s power consumtion. The success of the DeGrussa project has received a lot of attention globally and the project was awarded Project of the Year by the World Congress of Energy & Mines in 2016. However, for me the most important feedback comes from the mine operator itself. After more than one year of operation, the customer has confirmed that the system is operating successfully, resulting in considerable diesel savings. The quality and reliability of the power supply are at least as good as or possibly better than was previously the case. I am convinced that the project has given a signal for the future of power supply for mines throughout the world.
In many parts of the world, solar or wind power are now the most cost effective technologies to generate electricity. In combination with battery storage security of supply can be assured also during cloud events or when the wind does not blow.
A hybrid system also provides power price security. A mine using solar or wind power reduces its exposure to diesel, HFO or gas price volatility.
The positive environmental contribution is also relevant: for many mine operators, environmental factors are becoming increasingly important. Companies today look much more closely at their environmental footprint than was the case in the past. This is especially true for industries with a high power demand – such as mine operations. The source of power makes a huge difference to the CO2 balance. The DeGrussa project in Australia reduces Sandfire’s diesel consumption by about five million liters per year. That corresponds to about 20 percent of the power consumption of the mine and carbon dioxide saving of about 12,000 tonnes per year. This is a large saving.
In a nutshell, renewable energy provides at least three tangible benefits to mining companies: It saves costs for power, improves price security and protects the climate. This is good for the company’s financial position, security and reputation.