Operations at Independence Group’s Nova nickel-copper-cobalt operation in the Fraser Range of Australia are now being powered by a mix of diesel and solar energy after the on-site hybrid solar PV-diesel facility started up.
Zenith Energy’s wholly owned subsidiary, Zenith Pacific, built the plant. The ASX-listed power company also owns and operates the facility, which, it said, is already exceeding performance targets for power output and energy efficiency.
The two signed a contract back in 2018, amending an existing power purchase agreement.
Within the 26.6 MW facility is 5.5 MW of state-of-the-art photovoltaic (PV) modules, single axis tracking, inverters and communications and control system technology, according to Zenith Energy’s Managing Director, Hamish Moffat. The system also features high-efficiency diesel-fuelled generators that combine with this control system to optimise solar and diesel power delivery.
Moffat said: “The proprietary hybrid system developed by the company is able to seamlessly manage the fluctuations in solar PV energy production to provide smooth, reliable power, without the need for batteries to stabilise energy delivery to Nova.”
He explained that batteries have their place in energy systems but are still expensive to deploy for these applications.
“Our unique, locally developed hybrid system eliminates the need for batteries and represents a major step forward in the capital cost optimisation, operating efficiency and environmental performance of solar PV hybrid energy systems in remote locations,” he added.
According to Moffat, the system is saving Nova in the order of 6,500 litres of diesel a day, and it is the first hybrid solar PV-diesel installation to have been funded on a commercial, standalone basis – without any government subsidies.
IGO’s Chief Operating Officer, Matt Dusci, said: “At IGO we are striving to reduce our carbon footprint. The implementation of new technologies with the construction of a hybrid‐solar system at Nova will enable IGO to reduce our CO2-equivalent emissions by approximately 6,500 t per annum. The solar facility will also decrease our cost structure through reductions in our diesel fuel usage.”
As part of an agreement between the two companies, Zenith will supply power from the solar PV‐diesel hybrid system for an initial six‐year period, with an option for Independence to extend for a further two years.
Nova is expected to produce 6,750-7,500 t of nickel concentrate in the year ending June 30, 2020, alongside 2,750-3,125 t of copper concentrate and 213-238 t of cobalt concentrate, according to the miner’s September quarter results.