ASX-listed battery storage company, Redflow, has called on miners to ditch heavy polluting and high-cost diesel generation in favour of increasingly competitive renewable energy and large-scale energy storage, as part of a campaign targeting Australia’s remote and off-grid resources sector.
Redflow CEO Stuart Smith said on Wednesday that embracing renewable energy coupled with the Brisbane-based company’s unique zinc bromide flow battery technology could help drive down costs at remote and off-grid mine sites and replace outmoded diesel generators.
Smith said that in light of the current mining market decline – which, somewhat ironically, at least in the case of coal mining, can be partially attributed to the rise of cheaper renewables and battery storage – it was imperative that miners investigated how better energy management could reduce operating costs.
“Energy storage systems alongside solar arrays can deliver significant cost savings when compared with the infrastructure costs of setting up gas reticulation or using diesel generators,” Smith said. “Especially the cost of fuel when mine sites are not grid-connected.”
Of course, many miners in remote regions of Australia – and other global mining centres, such as Chile – are already well abreast of the benefits of using solar and storage to power their operations.
And in a white paper on the topic, Redflow points to pioneering Australia examples, like the DeGrussa Sandfire mine, north-east of Perth, which is investing $40 million to construct a 10.6MW solar power station by 2016.
It also cites Rio Tinto, which has deployed 6.7MW of solar photovoltaic generation for an off-grid mine, township and port to support its bauxite mining operations at Weipa, in Far North Queensland. Rio Tinto is currently adding an extra 5MW of solar panels, with integrated energy storage, to reduce diesel demand.
Another worth mentioning is the solar plus storage project (using a Vanadium Redox Battery system) being built by Australian company Energy Made Clean, to power a vanadium mining project in the Northern Territory.
As Smith notes, miners are discovering that large-scale energy storage can provide a cost-effective off-grid solution when coupled with renewables like solar.
“You can also use energy storage to safeguard against grid blackouts, delivering significant cost savings by reduced disruption during power outages,” he said.
Redflow has had the mining sector in its sites for some time now, alongside the residential solar market, as target markets for its scalable “plug and play” battery systems.
The company believes its ZBM batteries, which are manufactured by Flextronics, use a chemistry that are well suited to the harsh conditions mining sites often inhabit, with the ability – unlike their lithium-ion competitors – to operate in temperatures as hot as 50°C, and without active cooling.
They are also able to charge and discharge 100 per cent of their energy capacity each day, and are not damaged by deep daily cycling or unexpected power outages – giving them advantages in terms of energy density and shelf life.