Cannington Mine Solar System Installation

Cannington, in North West Queensland, hosts the Cannington mine on an old sheep and cattle station – and it’s going to get a 3MW solar farm! The Cannington Mine solar system has been ordered by South32 and will be built later this year. 

Cannington Mine Solar Farm

Cannington Mine solar farm
Cannington Mine solar farm (source: south32.net)

The Cannington mine is the world’s largest producer of silver and lead. The underground mine was opened in 1997 and is owned by South32, a mining and metals company with its HQ in Perth. The deposit was discovered by BHP Minerals (South32 was spun out of BHP Billiton in 2015) in 1990 and the mine was commissioned in 1997, with the cost of opening around US$450m. 

According to the North West Star, the solar photovoltaic (PV) farm will be installed across six hectares. It’ll generate electricity to supply the accommodation village of the mine and also its airport. Any leftover electricity will prop up the mining and processing operations of the Cannington mine. 

Energy Developments Pty Limited and SunSHIFT has won the tender to deliver the solar PV farm to Cannington – the installation of which is expected to result in 4000-6000 tonnes of greenhouse gases not being released into the atmosphere. Energy Developments currently own and operate over 980MW (almost there!) of energy generators – they focus on landfill gas (LFG) power generation and abatement, waste coal mine gas (WCMG) power generation and abatement, solar, wind, remote energy, and liquefied natural gas. 

Chief Sustainability Officer at South32 Rowena Smith said that she and everyone involved in the Cannington Mine solar farm were excited about the constructions:

“It’s an exciting time in the industry when renewable energy technology and innovation is applied to deliver power to our world-class remote mining operations.” Ms. Smith said. 

 Another great step forward for renewable energy in resources, which is really benefiting from the plummeting cost of installing solar power. It’ll be interesting to see how much money South32 are able to save by installing the Cannington Mine solar farm. We’ll keep you posted! 

Mungari / Kalgoorlie Solar Farm Tender

Hot of the heels of their success last week after signing a contract with Western Power to construct a microgrid in Kalbarri, Carnegie Clean Energy look set to build a Kalgoorlie Solar Farm after winning a tender for the lease of 250 hectares of land within the Buffer Zone of the Mungari Strategic Industrial Area.

The Mungari / Kalgoorlie Solar Farm

Kalgoorlie Solar Farm - Battery Energy Storage Solutions Carnegie
Kalgoorlie Solar Farm – Battery Energy Storage Solutions Carnegie (source: carnegiece.com)

According to SmallCaps, Carnegie (ASX: CCE) plan to construct and operate a solar farm which is capable of supplying large amounts of electricity into Western Australia’s main power grid. It’ll be known as the Mungari Solar Farm and will have a capacity of up to 100MW. This will result in the farm being able to generate 20MWh of battery-storage each year. The farm will be located 6km south-west of Kalgoorlie – where it will be able to supply electricity to Australia’s Eastern Goldfields. Another great step forward for renewable energy in resources – they’ll have access to clean, stable energy and be able to lock in price points without having to worry about the volatility currently plaguing Western Australia. It’ll also help them move towards reaching their RET (Renewable Energy Target) – which is currently 24% of electricity generation to come from renewables by 2020. 

“Carnegie has a strong track record of developing greenfield sites into shovel-ready renewable projects rapidly and responsibly, most recently with its Northam Solar Farm,” said Dr Michael Ottaviano (Carnegie Clean Energy‘s Managing Director).

“We are excited to play a role in the development of the Mungari Strategic Industrial Area, which has an important role in the future economic prosperity of the Eastern Goldfields and look forward to working closely with local industries seeking sources of clean power generation, the State Government, local governments and other key stakeholders in bringing this project to fruition,” said Dr Ottaviano.

$100m Adani Solar Farm Planned

The Indian energy company Adani Group (yes, the same company trying to build Australia’s biggest ever coal mine) have announced plans to develop a $100m Adani solar farm in Moranbah. Work will commence on the 175MW solar farm as soon as they get DA from the Isaac Regional Council.

Adani Solar Farm

Adani Solar Farm Moranbah Rugby Run
Adani Solar Farm at Rugby Run, Moranbah (source: adanirenewables.com)

Adani announced on Tuesday that the Moranbah solar farm will go ahead as soon as DA is received – according to the Mackay Daily Mercury cultural heritage surveys and engineering design has already commenced. Adani Renewables CEO Dr. Jennifer Purdie announced that stage 1 will commence in 2017 – “This is an exciting project in terms of its size, location, and the technology we are using,” Dr. Purdie said. “This will be Adani Renewables’ first project – the first of many – and we thank the Isaac Regional Council, in particular Mayor Anne Baker and her officers for their assistance and encouragement.”

The $100m first stage of the project, built on 600 hectares at the Rugby Run grazing property, will use single axis tracking systems to maximise efficiency and energy output. According to RenewEconomy, further stages will increase the generation capacity to 170MW. 

“We are excited to welcome Rugby Run Solar Farm as the first renewable energy project in the region,” Mayor of Isaac, Anne Baker was quoted as saying. “This project continues to diversify our local economy, and will contribute towards a sustainable future for both Isaac and the state. The project is expected to create 150 jobs during construction. 

Renewable Energy in Resources

Renewable energy in resources has become a hot topic lately, with the Korean zinc refiner Sun Metals solar farm currently under construction in Townsville. The 125MW, $199m solar farm will provide baseline power for around 1/3 of Sun Metals’ energy needs. 

Advanced Energy Resources are also building an $8m wind and solar farm at Port Gregory for GMA Garnet’s mine – it will provide baseline power for almost 70% of the mine’s needs. 

We expect to see the trend of resource companies building ‘companion’ renewable energy farms continue. They have myriad benefits – including reducing exposure to price fluctuations, increasing public goodwill, increasing site stability, and the obvious environmental factors. 

SMC / Sun Metals Solar Farm Project

Korean owned North Queensland zinc refiner Sun Metals has begun building a 125MW, $199m solar farm to underpin its refinery in Townsville. The Sun Metals solar farm will be completed next year and is another of many massive ongoing solar projects in North Queensland

Sun Metals Solar Farm

Sun Metals Solar Farm
Sun Metals Solar Farm (source: sunmetals.com.au)

Construction on the solar farm began in May – it’s expected to be completed early next year, and fully commissioned (providing renewable energy to the refinery) by April. The project will include 1.3 million solar panels and, according to a release by the Queensland Government, will create 210 solar powered jobs.  Queensland energy minister Mark Bailey praised the project, saying “Use of renewable energy in this way not only demonstrates it as a reliable energy source for large-scale industry, but that Korea Zinc is committed to the people of North Queensland, to minimising carbon emissions and protecting the Great Barrier Reef.”

First Solar have been chosen to undertake the project. They have over 500MW in the pipeline for the next 12 months, including the Hayman and Daydream solar farms

About Sun Metals

Sun Metals is a subsidiary of Korea Zinc – they’ve already spent around $1b on the Townsville zinc refinery and, according to the Courier Mail, the 116MW the Sun Metals solar farm provides will account for around 1/3 of their energy needs – so there’s plenty of room to expand. PV Magazine said Sun Metals produce 225,000 tonnes of zinc p.a. and that requires over 900,000 mWh of electricity. 

Sun Metals CEO Yun Choi said in May that “The SMC Solar Farm investment of $199 million is the first step in Korea Zinc ensuring the long term viability of the existing refinery and also underpinning the potential for its expansion using world class new technology, with an investment decision due in late 2017,”

Jack Curtis of First Solar was quoted as saying that “This project represents the viability of the commercial and industrial solar market in Australia and the growing trend of major energy consumers owning and operating renewable energy assets.”

Whilst far from being the first example of renewable energy in resources, it’s great to see these big companies work at reducing their carbon footprint as the benefits (e.g. cost, price fluctuation protection, environmentally friendly nature) of solar becomes more and more attractive. 

Musk slams SA energy security target.

Despite the Tesla South Australia battery partnership currently being undertaken, Elon Musk’s Tesla has rubbished the South Australian government’s planned SA energy security target, saying it will “hold back technology innovation whilst incentivising incumbent technology … imposing barriers on innovation by excluding rapidly evolving fast response technologies”.

Tesla’s Mark Twidell wrote a submission to the government where Tesla expressed their dissatisfaction with the target, saying “We do not feel that the draft regulations and supporting consultation paper are representative of the current South Australian position as leaders and innovators in the renewable energy space”.

SA Energy Security Target Musk Weatherill
Happier times: Jay Weatherill and Elon Musk before the SA Energy Security Target was announced.(source:theadvertiser.com.au)

SA Energy Security Target

Multiple major organisations have harshly lambasted the SA energy security target, which is planned to commence on January 1 and will require retailers to buy 36% of their power from South Australian sources. This number will rise to 50% by 2025 and, according to Nyrstar, who made a submission to the government about the target, “given the generation market structure and in particular the high concentration of generation in South Australia and the high underlying cost of the predominant fuel (gas), it is debatable whether the scheme will be effective at reducing pricing due to these factors”.

As per an article from the ABC, other submissions range from urging caution because it may not lower wholesale prices, to killing off plans for a new interconnector which was slated to feed power into the state. Momentum Energy said implementation of this energy security target is “unlikely to have any downward pressure on prices, and will instead become a pure pass-through to customers”. Origin Energy called the legislation “unclear”, and Alinta Energy posited that such a scheme could add $100 to an average bill.

For their part, the government stood by the legislation, with the Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis advising in parliament on Tuesday that it will lead to “lower wholesale electricity prices”, and will in turn “incentivise more generation”. No word on how exactly that will happen but we’ll undoubtedly hear more from all sides in the coming months. Opposition energy spokesman Dan van Holst Pellekaan noted that “even” the Greens were critical of the plan, labelled the government’s energy policy as “chaotic” and called for independent economic modelling before “inflicting further pain on long suffering South Australian businesses”.

AER $8m wind & solar farm Port Gregory, WA

GMA Garnet have commissioned AER (Advanced Energy Resources) to build a 3MW wind and solar farm Port Gregory in mid-Western Australia. Port Gregory is located 60 km south of Kalbarri (and 120km from the nearest substation, so this is a significant development for the GMA Garnet mine).

AER Solar Farm Port Gregory

Advanced Energy Resources - Solar Farm Port Gregory
Advanced Energy Resources (source: advancedenergy.net.au)

Advanced Energy Resources, part of the Castelli Group, will develop the project for the GMA Garnet mine – it will supply almost 70% of the mine’s power – which will then in turn reduce carbon footprint by about 5,000 tones of carbon dioxide per annum. The West reported that CFO of GMA, Grant Cox said the farm will help the mine reduce input costs in combating the increasing cost of electricity  – and also lauded the environmental impact of the the project –  “We are proud to be moving our operation to have the lowest carbon emissions in the industry,” he said.

AER MD Luca Castelli also spoke proudly of the collaboration – noting the company’s proven track record of embedded renewable energy generation – and how it is a lot cheaper than ‘dirty’ power generated through fossil fuels. “We are proud to be partnering with GMA Garnet in this groundbreaking project which will credibly display how AER can reduce costs for large energy users while providing tangible benefits to regional electricity networks and fringe of grid areas” Castelli said.

AER, which was founded in 2006, already owns and operates a renewable portfolio so this is a welcome addition.

Funding renewables for mines is still a new idea and faces a lot of challenges – with National Australia Bank (NAB)’s global head of resources, energy, and Northern Australia, Phillip Mak, recently addressing a panel on renewable energy in resources on the issue. Mak was quoted as telling the Energy and Mines Summit in Perth“…the big challenge is convincing miners, investors and bankers, that the integration is very well understood and reliable”.

This is a great step for Western Australian Solar  and it’s also positive seeing renewable energy in resources become a larger part of our renewables conversation, given that natural resources contribute significantly to export performance and also to our GDP, albeit to a lesser degree.