IGO has continued its partnership with Zenith Energy to prove it is possible to use 100 per cent renewables to meet the demands of an operational mine site.
Zenith Energy is the builder, owner and operator of the power station at IGO’s Nova nickel-copper-cobalt operation in the Goldfields region of Western Australia and will expand its renewable generation to successfully operate ‘engine off’ for up to nine consecutive hours a day.
The site is currently powered by a hybrid solar and diesel engine system and will expand its renewable energy capabilities through the addition of an extra 10MW of solar panels, and a 10MWh battery energy storage system.
The storage system is a key component of achieving ‘engine off’, storing sufficient power to ensure supply and reliability of the system is not compromised.
IGO chief operating officer Matt Dusci said the renewable power generation is an important next step in the company’s journey towards carbon neutrality.
“By supporting greater uses of renewable energy at our Nova operation, it will set a new industry benchmark in renewable energy integration and demonstrates our commitment to decarbonise our business,” Dusci said.
“As a company we continue to challenge ourselves on continuous improvement. We are now at a point where technology and cost structure are enabling powering of an entire mining operation with 100 per cent renewable penetration.”
Zenith executive manager – growth Dominic Da Cruz said his company is taking on the responsibility of not only developing the concepts to advance renewable solutions, but also piloting and proving the integration of technologies needed.
“The Nova 2.0 project will require us to integrate specific technology into the power system to provide inertia and stability, ensuring a continuous, reliable supply of power.”
Da Cruz said the project would boost renewable penetration on site, to allow for 100 per cent renewable power generation during daylight hours, depending on weather conditions.
Based upon a power purchase agreement struck up with IGO in October 2018, Zenith built its facility to complement the previous Nova diesel power station, also designed by Zenith.
Da Cruz said while Nova will continue to rely on diesel-generated power overnight and during inclement weather conditions, he is confident the industry is approaching a tipping point where 100 per cent renewable power generation will be possible 24 hours a day.
“Zenith is already looking at what subsequent steps are needed to achieve this, including how we make wind assets relocatable to achieve higher levels of renewable penetration, and the integration of long duration storage,” he said.
“It’s an exciting time not just for Zenith as a company, but for the entire industry. We’re making real progress in the decarbonisation space and what that might look like for the sector moving forward.”