It is the largest off-grid solar and battery storage facility in Australia, possibly the world, and is a game-changing project for energy production and storage at remote mine sites.
The solar array at the mine covers 20 hectares, was constructed in 10 months and was delivered on budget and at peak production, it will provide 93% of all energy at the mine.
The Australian Rewnewable Energy Agency (ARENA) supported the project with a $20.9m recoupable grant and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation committed $15m in debt finance. The remaining funding was provided by the project owner, French renewable energy developer Neoen.
ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said that AREANA supports first-of-a-kind projects like this because they are crucial to increasing confidence among industry professionals, project developers, investors and financers.
Solar panels at the DeGrussa Solar Power Project in remote Western Australia. Source: ARENA
Sandfire Managing Director, Karl Simich said the installation "draws together a number of technologies which are widely expected to have a transformational impact on the global economy over the next decade".
Over a full year, the installation is forecast to reduce the mine's carbon emissions by 15%, or 12,000 tonnes. Sandfire will benefit from more predictable power costs and anticipates potential cost savings through reduced reliance on trucked-in diesel.
The mining industry has been watching this exciting project closely. If the benefits prove worthwhile, other miners will follow suit, exploring and adopting renewable energy technologies at remote mine sites. The installation marks a possible turning point and new era in the industry.
It is truly exciting to see such a monumental project successfully completed in remote Western Australia. We are keen to see how the first off-grid renewable mining project goes - if you are too, stay tuned.