DeGrussa Solar and Storage

The CEFC has committed up to $15 million to a $40 million solar and battery storage project which demonstrates the potential for solar energy as an alternative to diesel in remote area mining.

Project scope

The 10.6MW solar plant with 6MW of battery storage is located at the Sandfire Resources’ DeGrussa copper and gold mine in Western Australia. The plant, 900 kilometres north-east of Perth, became fully operational in June 2016. Some 34,080 solar PV panels have been installed on a 20-hectare site near the mine.

Solar is expected to provide approximately 40 per cent of the mine’s daytime electricity requirements, offsetting about 5 million litres of expensive trucked-in diesel fuel per annum.

The DeGrussa Solar Power Project is owned by the leading French renewable energy firm Neoen, with juwi Renewable Energy responsible for the project development, engineering procurement and construction management (EPC) and operations and management (O&M).

The plant was constructed by national surveying and infrastructure construction company OTOC Australia and has received a recoupable grant of $20.9 million from ARENA.

Progress report

In August 2016, Neoen announced that it had secured a 5.5 year large-scale generation certificate (LGC) sale agreement with Origin for LGCs produced by the DeGrussa Solar Hybrid Power plant.

Looking to the future

Remote area mines have a significant and growing opportunity to create complementary power sources, drawing on solar power and battery storage and replacing diesel. This will become more attractive as improvements in battery technology contribute to lower costs.

This project has already attracted a significant amount of interest from within the mining industry in Australia with Sandfire receiving inquiries from several of our peers interested in adopting this technology at their mine sites. I would not be surprised to see more facilities like this built over the next few years, as the benefits and potential of solar power become increasingly recognised across the resource sector. Sandfire Managing Director
Karl Simich