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! 

Portable Solar Tech SunSHIFT given $2.1m by ARENA.

The government have announced $2.1m in funding for portable solar tech (‘pop-up solar’), as per an announcement from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) last Thursday. This represents a step in the right direction in terms of replacing ‘dirty’ and expensive diesel generators with (for the most part) clean, portable energy solutions in rural and fringe-of-grid areas. These portable solar generators will be manufactured by a company called SunSHIFT, which has been established by Laing O’Rourke.

SunSHIFT Portable Solar by Laing O’Rourke

The money has been invested in a new technology which combines a PV system with battery storage. The system is also complemented by a diesel/gas generator as a backup energy source. The SunSHIFT portable solar machines will be modular 1MW blocks which could be used, initially, in tandem with conventional energy generation. ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht noted in the AFR that this mobile solar tech could be particularly useful for short-medium term projects, where the relatively long payback period of solar energy would not be feasible.

“Projects that only last a handful of years, like construction and mining operations, could benefit from SunSHIFT without having to rely on the typical 20-plus year payback period for solar installations,” Frischknecht said.

The SunSHIFT blocks have also been lauded by Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg who was quoted as saying “This innovation means several locations can benefit from a single plant, without any one site needing to commit to a permanent installation.”

Portable Solar SunSHIFT Blocks
Mobile Solar – SunSHIFT Blocks (source: sunshift.com)

SunSHIFT Technical Specifications and more information.

  • Each 1MW block will contain 2400 (435kw) solar panels.
  • Each panels/inverter/transformer/storage unit will occupy ~1.25ha
  • Designed to fit in shipping containers.
  • Cost less than providing diesel power to regional sites (the transportation of diesel fuel can run up to 30% of cost of energy)
  • Targeted at mining companies.
  • Buy-out option available.
  • Click here to read a fact sheet from SunSHIFT about their product.