WA Garnet producer enters renewable energy deal

Advanced Energy Resources (AER) 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 three megawatt wind and solar farm in Western Australia.

AER will build, own and operate the $8 million wind and solar farm project, to be located near Port Gregory, around 60km south of Kalbarri.

The project will initially supply nearly 70 per cent of the mine’s electricity requirements and transition Perth based GMA Garnet into becoming supplied by 100 per cent renewable energy.

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

The project was announced at the Energy and Mines Summit held in Perth on June 29-30, which focused on the challenges in financing renewables on mines.

National Australia Bank’s global head of resources, energy and Northern Australia, Phillip Mak, said industry, banks and institutions funding renewables for mines are still understanding the risks involved, particularly in terms of integrating diesel and gas power supplies with solar or wind sources for remote mine sites.

“The big challenge is convincing miners, investors and bankers, that the integration is very well understood and reliable,” he said.

“The integration can’t pose us any risk to power security as many mine sites are off-grid and continued power supply, in remote mine sites, is crucial.”

The garnet mine is located around 120km from the nearest substation and at the fringe of the electricity network. AER’s 2.8 MW (peak output) battery inverter will perform electricity output smoothing during windy and cloudy weather, while providing uninterrupted electricity supply to the mine during network outages.

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

GMA Garnet will reduce its carbon footprint by around 5000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum, with the project generating enough electricity to power 1700 average Australian homes each year.

GMA Garnet’s chief financial officer Grant Cox said AER’s new wind and solar farm will be a practical way of reducing its input costs and helping combat the increasing cost of electricity.

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

AER’s managing director, Luca Castelli, said, “We are proud to be partnering with GMA Garnet in this groundbreaking project which will credibly display how AER 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.”