cost savings, and variable power usage is set to drive the increased use of renewables in
mining in the next decade.
As one of the most energy-intensive industries, the mining sector is starting to seriously
consider the significant cost-savings that renewable solutions offer, and include wind and
solar into the power mix.
As renewable microgrids develop in size and complexity, technology relentlessly advances,
material costs drop, and hybrid solutions improve to ensure seamless integration of power
sources and seamless reliability, renewables are becoming an inevitable part of mining
The mining sector opportunity
An average size off grid mine with a 30MW power plant will probably burn about $1.4 billion
of diesel fuel over a 20-year period, which is about one third of the total cost of the mine. In
Australia, the mining industry has realised that renewable energy offers a cheaper, cleaner
and smarter way to power their operations, and there is already significant interest in the use
of renewables in the sector.
significant opportunity for hybrid renewables to be part of the energy mix. Stephen Hanson,
COO of international renewables company juwi says that currently, just 0.1 % of power
supply on mining sites comes from wind and solar, with only 2,240MW of wind and solar PV
Dave Manning, juwi’s global head of hybrid, says that in Australia there is already
widespread consensus in mining that, a 50% renewable share at Australian mine sites
should be considered the norm, and where possible 100% renewables should follow.
“Mines are most interested in solutions that can reduce costs and carbon emissions,” said
“The most advanced options to deliver this are hybrid systems that integrate solar, wind and
batteries with diesel, gas or heavy fuel oil generators, without compromising reliability or
“We are already starting to see mines transition to fully electric operations, as there are
multiple benefits. The economics of a 100% renewable energy site are almost there, and
with the introduction of hydrogen, we are almost certainly going to see 100% renewable
energy-powered operations in the near future.”
Manning says that the biggest benefit for mines employing renewables is cost reduction,
and the ability to reduce their carbon footprint. “Another important related benefit is energy
price certainty – with the inclusion of renewable in hybrid solutions, the mine is able to
reduce its exposure to oil price or electricity price volatility,” says Manning.
Technology driving reliability
Rapid improvement in battery technology, integration and control systems has ensured that
hybrid power solutions offers massive cost savings without sacrificing reliability.
“Battery technology is increasing the reliability of the power supply, and allowing thermal
assets, when required, to operate more efficiently,” says Manning.
“We have developed a state of the art integration system with our hybrid IQ solution that
ensures a seamless power supply. At the core of the system is a micro-grid controller and
SCADA system that incorporate all generation and distribution assets from wind, solar and
battery to gas, diesel, heavy fuel oil and even hydrogen generators,” says Manning.
The hybrid IQ system also includes enabling technologies such as cloud and wind
forecasting which further optimizes performance.
Until recently, mines had not been convinced that solar, or wind, can be absorbed easily into
an off-grid location without affecting reliability. However, renewable hybrid projects such as
the Sandfire DeGrussa Hybrid Project in Western Australia are achieving their annual
generation targets ahead of schedule. The De Grussa project consists of a 10.6MW tracking
PV Project together with a 6MW battery coupled with a hybrid control system which juwi
developed, constructed and has been operating and maintaining since 2016. “The excellent
performance of this project confirms that hybrid systems reduce costs without compromising
power system reliability and safety,” says Manning.
“More efficient panel technology and the introduction of bifacial panels is set to improve the
performance of solar, and in wind we are seeing the development of turbines designed for
variable wind conditions, so you get optimal performance out of your local environment.”
As the deployment of renewable energy hybrids gains momentum in Australia, major hybrid
microgrids powered by solar, wind and batteries in remote locations at the fringe of Western
Australia’s electricity grid, are being rolled out. One example is the Agnew hybrid microgrid
deployed at a gold mine in the northern Goldfields consisting of five wind turbines delivering
an 18 MW wind farm, a 10,000 panel 4 MW solar farm and a 13 MW/4 MWh battery storage
alongside a 16 MW gas-fired power station. The facility has is being delivered by distributed
energy developer EDL in partnership with juwi.
The rapidly falling costs of renewables and storage are the main factor supporting the
economics for hybrid microgrids at mines, says Manning, “In the absence of carbon pricing
or robust support schemes for renewables in mining, solar, wind and battery had to stand on
their own feet commercially right from the start.”
Issued on behalf of juwi by Catalyst Communications Contact: Chace Brand email@example.com / 021 035 0351 / 072 095 6718