Juwi awarded contract to build solar farm at Gruyere gold mine microgrid

A 13MW solar farm that will combine with a battery energy storage system and gas plant to power a gold mine in Western Australia is expected to be up and running by the end of this year, after Juwi Renewable Energy was tapped to build the PV array.

Juwi, the Brisbane-based subsidiary of German renewable energy specialist juwi AG, said this week that it had signed an agreement to construct the solar PV component of the hybrid power solution for the Gruyere Gold Mine, a joint venture of Gold Road Resources and Gold Fields.

The Gruyere hybrid mirocrogrid project is owned and operated by ASX-listed APA Group, after it was signed up for the two-phased power expansion agreement in late 2020 to increase the gold mine’s total installed capacity from 45MW to 64MW.

The $38 million project will, in the first phase, install a twelfth reciprocating gas-fired engine at the mine in the north-eastern Goldfields region of Western Australia, and in the second phase install a utility-scale solar array and battery storage.

The 13MW solar farm will be backed-up by a 4.4MW/4.4MWh battery energy storage system, as well as a hybrid control system combining cloud and weather forecasting, battery management and the existing reciprocating engine control systems to optimise efficiency and maximise the use of renewable generation.

For Juwi, the Gruyere solar project adds to a growing list of hybrid renewables projects in Australia, including construction of a solar, wind, and battery hybrid energy “hub” that aims to meet up to half (46%) of the annual electricity demand of the Western Australia coastal town of Esperance.

The company was also contracted to install the solar and storage system at the Degrussa Gold and Copper Mine, and the wind/solar/battery/gas/diesel system at the Agnew gold mine – both in W.A.; and a solar and flow battery system at the University of Queensland research centre on Heron Island.

“We look forward to assisting APA and the mine owners … to help reduce the overall carbon intensity and cost of power supply to the Gruyere Gold Mine,” said Juwi’s director of global hybrid, Dave Manning.

For the South Africa-based Gold Fields, which is the mine operator and manager of the Gruyere joint venture, the shift to renewables in Australia and abroad is a major part of the company’s long-term business plans.

As RenewEconomy has reported, Gold Fields has been active in powering its mining operations with renewables in Australia, having converted its Agnew mine near Leinster in W.A. to more than 50% renewables via a hybrid wind, solar and battery storage system.

It has also installed 8MW of solar and a 1MW/2MWh lithium-ion battery at its Granny Smith mine, which has been integrated with the mine’s existing 24.2MW natural gas generation.

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