Media

Remote power generation milestone marks turning point for renewable energy

8 June, 2016

Renewables are set to become 'the' power source of the future for regional and remote Australia, with energy consumption set to be transformed by innovations in power generation, new lows in solar pricing and the anticipated rapid price reduction in batteries.

CEFC CEO Oliver Yates said a pioneering solar and battery storage project in remote Western Australia, which has just become fully operational, demonstrates that renewable energy will increasingly become the preferred energy of choice.

The CEFC helped finance the innovative solar and storage project at the Sandfire Resources' DeGrussa Copper-Gold Mine, which will substantially reduce the mine's diesel consumption and cut overall emissions.

"This is an important project of scale that demonstrates the potent combination of solar and battery storage and the benefits this brings to remote regions," Mr Yates said. "DeGrussa has delivered a unique combination of an off-grid high capacity solar power array and battery storage fully integrated with an existing diesel-fired power station."

The $40 million DeGrussa Solar Project has involved the installation of a 6MW lithium-ion battery storage facility, powered by more than 34,000 solar PV panels on a 20 hectare site near the mine. The CEFC committed $15 million in debt finance to the project, which also received $20.9 million in recoupable grant funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

Mr Yates added: "While this development also benefited from grant funding, the project shows the clear economic potential for off-grid renewables in regional and remote Australia. With this project now operational, and given the price reductions we are seeing in solar and batteries, the economics of remote solar and storage are becoming attractive even when oil prices are low.

"Soon remote communities and mines will be able to reduce the need for expensive trucked-in diesel used in dirty generators. This project demonstrates the financial, health and environmental benefits that moving towards renewable energy solutions can provide."

In 2013, AECOM estimated that using diesel for electricity generation cost between $240-$300/MWh (for diesel costs only) for larger mines and up to $450/MWh for communities and smaller industrial loads, depending on the efficiency of the diesel unit. By contrast, AECOM found that the levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) of solar PV on a typical remote mine site was around $226/MWh without grants or subsidies.

"Today the LCOE has fallen to below $100/MWh, meaning adding batteries to systems is increasingly making good economic sense," Mr Yates said.

The DeGrussa project is the largest integrated off-grid solar and battery storage project in Australia. The project is owned by leading French renewable energy firm Neoen, with juwi Renewable Energy responsible for the project development, EPC and O&M. Perth-based surveying and infrastructure construction company OTOC Limited constructed the plant.

The project is expected to reduce the mine's annual diesel consumption by about 5 million litres and cut carbon emissions by more than 12,000 tonnes of CO2 annually - a reduction of more than 15 per cent based on reported emissions for the 2015 financial year.

Editor's note: To access copies of media releases which were also issued today by the other consortium members listed below as well as new high-resolution images of the DeGrussa Solar Power Project including recent drone footage and images (from last week) and a recent animation sequence showing the DeGrussa Solar Power Project, please click on the following Dropbox link:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/yb46q33v2myg45c/AAApTT9IMgCjFZTYut0125zia?dl=0

About Sandfire Resources 

Sandfire Resources (ASX Ticker: SFR) is a leading mid-tier Australian mining company which operates the high-grade, low cost DeGrussa Copper-Gold Mine in Western Australia. Sandfire Resources is developing a global portfolio of high quality resource assets as the foundation for its longer term vision to build a diversified international mining house. 

About Neoen

Neoen is an independent power producer, generating electricity from renewable sources (solar, wind or biomass). Neoen develops, finances, builds and operates plants and is active in France, Portugal, Australia, Mexico, Egypt, Mozambique, Jamaica, Zambia, Jordan and El Salvador. With a current operating base of 759 MW, Neoen seeks to achieve installed power of over 1000MW by 2017. Founded in 2008, the company is a subsidiary of Impala SAS (www.impala-sas.com), a diversified investment group with over 6000 employees and a global presence, of Bpifrance (www.bpifrance.fr), the French public investment bank, and of private equity firm Omnes Capital (www.omnescapital.com). www.neoen.com

About juwi

The juwi Group is one of the world's leading renewable energy companies specialising in the Engineering, Procurement and Construction ("EPC") of utility-scale projects. With approximately 1,000 employees worldwide, juwi has been involved in the development, design, construction and operation of more than 1,500 solar PV projects and the installation of more than 700 wind turbines with a cumulated capacity of over 3,300MW.

About OTOC

OTOC is a leading provider of infrastructure construction and renewable energy services to government, resources, energy, utilities and remote area clients. Our Australasian footprint allows us to leverage our wealth of experience to deliver the highest quality service across critical support infrastructure projects.  OTOC prides itself on delivering complete infrastructure solutions through the ability to partner with clients on all project stages, from design through to construction and ongoing maintenance. OTOC also provides premium surveying, aerial mapping, laser scanning, town planning and urban design services nationally across all sectors.  OTOC Limited is listed on the ASX with ticker OTC.

About ARENA

ARENA was established by the Australian Government to make renewable energy technologies more affordable and increase the supply of renewable energy in Australia. Through the provision of funding coupled with deep commercial and technical expertise, ARENA provides the support needed to accelerate the development of promising new solutions towards commercialisation. ARENA invests in renewable energy projects across the innovation chain and is committed to sharing knowledge and lessons learned from its portfolio of projects and information about renewable energy. ARENA always looks for at least matched funding from the projects it supports and to date has committed $1.1 billion in funding to more than 250 projects. For more information, visit www.arena.gov.au