Hybrid solar battery systems replace diesel at four remote gold mines – RenewEconomy

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West Australian gold producer Westgold has replaced six diesel power stations with four hybrid solar, battery and gas systems that are slashing emissions and saving money.

The company contracted Pacific Energy to install the new systems, which have a combined capacity of 82MW, under a seven-year build, own and operate agreement.

All four mines – Tuckabianna, Bluebird, Fortnum and Big Bell facilities – are located in the Mid-West region of Western Australia, and have a combined capacity of 28MW of solar, 11.5MW of battery energy storage, and 42.5MW of high-efficiency gas generation.

It is expected that the four hybrid power systems will displace 38 million litres of diesel each year, cutting carbon emissions by up to 57,000 tonnes annually.

Pacific Energy says its hybrid power systems are based around grid forming battery technology, which is able to integrate renewable energy sources and dynamically stabilise power output, essentially mimicking the characteristics of traditional rotating thermal generators.

The new hybrid systems also come with what Pacific Energy describes as an “emergency hydrocarbons-off functionality” which allows for seamless mining operations using solar and battery storage during system outages or other critical situations.

“We’re approaching our systems design with a future-focused mindset, so they can support the increasing sophistication of renewable energy technologies for years to come, and to ensure we’re delivering the decarbonisation outcomes our clients are looking for,” Pacific Energy CEO Jamie Cullen said.

The hybrid power system deployed at Westgold’s Tuckabianna facility was fully commissioned in August 2023 and has since achieved an average solar penetration of 31% between November 2023 and January 2024, peaking at 36.9% in December.

“Moving towards renewables works for Westgold as a business because it drives costs out,” said Westwood CEO Wayne Bramwell.

“It also works for the environment because it significantly reduces carbon emissions, and it sends a signal about our long-term view of building a sustainable business.”

Joshua S. Hill is a Melbourne-based journalist who has been writing about climate change, clean technology, and electric vehicles for over 15 years. He has been reporting on electric vehicles and clean technologies for Renew Economy and The Driven since 2012. His preferred mode of transport is his feet.

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