A Western Australian gold mine will be the first Australian mine to be powered by a wind, solar, battery and gas microgrid, now under construction.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will provide $13.5 million in funding to Agnew Gold Mining, part of the Gold Fields, for the development of a high penetration renewable microgrid at its Agnew Gold Mine in the northern Goldfields, Western Australia.

The renewable hybrid microgrid will consist of five wind turbines delivering an 18MW wind farm, a 10,000 panel 4MW solar farm and a 13MW/4MWh battery energy storage system (BESS) with security and reliability of a microgrid underpinned with a 16MW gas engine power station. This will be the first time wind generation as part of a large hybrid microgrid in the mining sector in Australia. 

The renewable energy microgrid is expected to provide 55 to 60% of the energy requirements with the potential meet almost all energy requirement at certain times.

Gold Fields will also adopt innovative operational practices such as dynamic load shedding, renewable resource forecasting and IPP-controlled load management to maximise renewable energy use while maintaining system security.

Distributed energy producer EDL will design, construct, own and operate the microgrid to power the mine in two stages, under a 10-year agreement with Gold Fields.

The first stage involving a new off-grid power station incorporating gas, diesel generation and solar is due to be completed in mid 2019. The second stage including the wind, battery and microgrid system recently started construction and will be completed in 2020. 

“ARENA is continuing to help build a business case for renewables in mining which has been underlined by other successful projects such as Rio Tinto’s Weipa project and Sandfire Resources’ DeGrussa Solar Project, reducing their fuel consumption by up to 20%,” said ARENA CEO Darren Miller.

EDL CEO James Harman said the company had seen increasing momentum towards hybrid energy solutions, particularly in remote off-grid locations.