Advanced Energy Resources has signed a long-term power purchase agreement with the world’s largest industrial garnet producer, GMA Garnet, which will see the construction of a 3MW wind and solar farm with battery storage near Port Gregory, 60km south of Kalbarri.

AER will draw on its extensive renewable energy experience to build, own and operate the $8 million project which will initially supply almost 70% of the mine’s electricity requirements and transition GMA Garnet toward being supplied by 100% renewable energy.

GMA Garnet will reduce its carbon footprint by around 5,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, with the project generating enough electricity to power 1,700 average Australian homes each year.

The project will be the first grid-connected wind and solar farm with battery storage in Western Australia.

The project’s wind turbines have arrived in Perth and project approvals are underway, with commissioning expected to occur early in 2019. The project will use Enercon wind turbines.

GMA Garnet chief financial officer Grant Cox said price certainty was an important consideration in the decision.

“AER’s experience and established track record in the renewable energy sector has given us comfort that AER’s wind and solar farm will be a truly practical way of reducing our input costs while also hedging against the ever increasing cost of electricity,” Cox said.

“We are proud to be moving our operation to have the lowest carbon emissions in the industry.”

The mine site is 120km from the nearest substation and at the fringe of the network and is supplied by highly constrained electricity distribution infrastructure that is prone to frequent faults.

AER’s 2.8MW (peak output) battery inverter will perform electricity output smoothing during times of variable wind and cloudy weather, while providing uninterrupted electricity supply to the mine during network outages.

The battery will be designed to provide on-demand network support in the future.

AER managing director Luca Castelli said the technology can reduce costs for large energy users while providing tangible benefits to regional electricity networks and fringe of grid areas.

“We have proven through past projects that embedded renewable energy generation is cheaper than traditional fossil fuelled generation, and will play a key role in reducing both electricity costs and greenhouse gas emissions for WA industry,” Castelli said.