3MW solar farm switched on at remote Queensland mine

A 3MW solar farm built to help power a silver, lead and zinc mine in north-west Queensland has been completed, and is now supplying the mine with renewable electricity alongside an existing gas plant.
The 7,200-panel Cannington Solar Farm was installed at the mine of the same name by Energy Developments Pty Ltd, in what EDL says is the first of its kind in Australia to be integrated with a gas-fired power station.
At the time of the project’s launch in April, EDL said the solar array would be built and owned by SunSHIFT, using its pre-fabricated, modular and moveable PV technology for large-scale on-grid and off-grid electricity generation.
The owner of the mine, South32, says the the now complete six-hectare solar farm will be used to supply the site’s accommodation village and airport, with surplus power used to support mining and processing operations.
“This is our first solar installation and will help to deliver reduced greenhouse gas emissions by offsetting gas consumption with solar,” the company said in a statement.
South32 also claims that the PV project – which contributes to the objectives of the company’s Climate Change Strategy – is the second largest such installation in a remote, off-grid mining operation in Australia.
The biggest is the DeGrussa copper mine in WA, while Rio Tinto has installed solar at its Weipa mine.
And there are plenty more renewables projects in the works for the resources sector in Australia, including a $16 million 3.2MW solar and battery rollout announced by oil and gas major Santos just this week, which is being rolled out across 56 of its remote crude oil pumps in the Cooper Basin in South Australia and Queensland, and potentially extended to another 151 sites.
“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a big part of (our energy strategy) so I’m delighted that our Cannington operation’s solar installation is leading the way,” said South32’s Rob Jackson, vice president of operations at Cannington.
“It’s an exciting time in the industry when renewable energy technology and innovation is applied to deliver power to our world-class remote mining operations.”
South32 says that the cost to install and operate the solar farm would be offset by lower fuel costs, making it an economically viable solution for the company.
EDL, which also developed the mine’s 40MW gas power station, specialises in customising remote, renewable hybrid generation solutions, and played a key role in taking the South Australian mining town of Coober Pedy to 100% renewables.
“At EDL we are committed to delivering innovative, tailored solutions that provide reliable, cost-effective and environmentally sustainable energy,” said CEO James Harman in comments on Wednesday.
“EDL is leading the way in remote, renewable hybrid generation and we look forward to developing many more projects like this all around Australia.”

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