The largest integrated off-the-grid solar power system in Australia has just been turned on! Located 100km from Meekatharra at the DeGrussa copper-gold mine, this 40 million dollar installation is alongside the Sandfire-owned mine and plant, and covers 20ha. 34,080 photovoltaic solar panels collect energy from the sun after reaching full generation capacity recently.
At present, this amazing solar feat is generating around 7MW of power, but is expected to generate around 10MW (wow!) when the summer sun makes his appearance. This will save Sandfire Resources a whopping 5 million litres worth of diesel per year and decrease their emissions by an impressive (for a mining operation) 15%. The project will also set standards for other mining operations within Australia. In fact, the mine has said they have received enquiries from other mining operations, interested in adopting the system themselves.
The system’s solar panels are mounted atop 4700 posts and feature a sun-tracking system that ensures the panels are in an optimum position all day.These panels then filter the solar energy to an innovative lithium-ion battery storage facility, which handles 6MW, while the other 19MW gets sent to the DeGrussa diesel-fired power station, which is run by Kalgoorlie Power Systems. The entire system is heavily managed, integrating controls to manage swings in the load and other variables, so that the supply is smooth and uninterrupted.
This project will continue to be monitored – with the next review in June – to ensure it continues to operate effectively, but if it does, there’s likely to be even more interest from other mine operators and similar large-scale companies. It’s great to see battery storage being used in such a large way and we look forward to seeing its spread. In the meantime, if you’d like an effective battery storage solution for your home or business, give us a call on (07) 4033 5883.
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