Hybrid solar and battery system to power mineral sands project in W.A.

Pacific Energy subsidiary Contract Power will build a 32 megawatt hybrid gas and renewables plant to power the Coburn mineral sands project in Western Australia’s Gascoyne region.

Gas will form the majority of power, with solar contributing around 30 per cent of major stable loads.

Coburn developer, ASX-listed miner Strandline Resources, said it had signed a 15-year supply agreement with Contract Power, a move it said would see it pay less for power than originally forecast.

Contract Power will own and operate the facility, which will be built near the mine’s mineral separation plant. Along with generators, it will also include on-site storage and re-vaporisation facilities.

Contract Power has specialised in building remote off-grid power plants for mining sites for 25 years, but has traditionally favoured diesel generators.

The new PPA marks the latest in a spate of similar projects awarded to the increasingly renewables-focused company and its purpose-built remote microgrid business, Hybrid Systems, both of which were acquired by Pacific Energy in 2018.

This includes a gas, solar and battery system at a silver and lead mine in Western Australia’s Gascoyne region, and a 2MW diesel, 1.2MW solar and a 350kWh battery system at an open-cut kaolin clay mine and geological waste repository in WA’s Goldfields-Esperance region, that has proven to be able to power the facility with renewable energy only during daylight hours.

Contract Power is also behind the currently under construction Esperance renewables hub, which combines a 22MW gas power station with two 4.5MW wind turbines, 2MW of battery storage and 4MW of solar. The company has also been flat out working alongside Western Power to install more than 40 solar and battery-based stand-alone power systems across its vast grid.

An ASX release gave no detail on the capacity either of the solar or the battery component of the hybrid system. But it said the power station (presumably the gas component) would be suitable for a maximum demand capacity of 15MW.

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