Tag Archives: Ian Learmonth

Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corp backs new wind farm and battery project for BHP Olympic Dam

The Australian Government says it is making the BHP Olympic Dam mine, in South Australia, cleaner and creating jobs by supporting a wind farm and battery project.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) is investing A$99 million ($64 million) to boost Neoen’s Goyder wind farm – which will provide electricity to BHP’s copper mine in the northern part of the state. This cleaner and cheaper renewable power will be backed up by Neoen’s Blyth Battery, which is located nearby.

Once completed, the wind farm will generate 203 MW of electricity, and the battery will store 477 MWh, enough to help meet half of Olympic Dam mine’s electricity needs with clean power.

The Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, said the project is important for the South Australian clean energy and resources sectors.

“It’s great to see clean energy powering mining – bringing together key national industrial strengths in renewables and resources, while creating jobs,” he said. “The Albanese Government is excited to support a project that involves three vital things for Australia’s future – wind power, batteries, and strategic materials.”

Blyth Battery is the fifth big battery project financed by the CEFC, bringing their total investment in this technology to over A$390 million.

CEFC CEO, Ian Learmonth, said: “The challenge of reducing emissions across the economy starts with the energy sector. The offtake agreement with BHP demonstrates how reducing energy emissions accelerates decarbonisation across the economy. This innovative solution to provide firmed green energy at Olympic Dam enables a significant energy user to progress its net zero goals while producing a critical mineral like copper more sustainably.”

Neoen CEO, Louis de Sambucy, said: “We are delighted to announce the joint financing of the second tranche of Goyder South Stage 1 alongside Blyth Battery and we sincerely thank the lender group for their trust and commitment. We are looking forward to powering BHP’s Olympic Dam mine with baseload renewable energy.”

3ME looks to scale-up Bladevolt battery system tech following A$20m investments from CEFC, AGBF

3ME Technology has completed a A$20 million ($14.6 million) capital raise with the CEFC and the Australian Business Growth Fund (AGBF) that will allow the company to scale-up production of its modular and scalable battery systems.

The CEFC, on behalf of the Australian Government, has pledged A$5 million of investment in 3ME, with the remainder coming from the AGBF.

The investment, the CEFC says, will enable miners to replace diesel engines with cutting-edge battery electric systems, reducing their emissions and supporting safer, more efficient mine operations.

Based in the Hunter region of New South Wales, 3ME’s battery systems have featured in Safescape’s Bortana EV and, more recently, in the TRITEV Integrated Tool-Carrier/Loader running at Aeris Resources Tritton copper operations in the state.

Its Bladevolt battery technology, the CEFC says, allows remote performance monitoring and control of battery pack cells, and is modular and powerful enough to transform a 20-t loader – such as the TRITEV – into a fully electric-powered vehicle.

Earlier this year, 3ME confirmed a circa-A$140 million deal had been agreed between it and Batt Mobile Equipment (BME). The pact between the two companies, which worked on the development of the TRITEV, would see 3ME supply BME with upwards of 150 electric vehicle engine packages over the next five years to power BME’s 20 t Integrated Tool Carrier battery-electric vehicle retrofits.

On the recent funding agreement, CEFC CEO, Ian Learmonth, said: “The decarbonisation of Australia’s resources sector is critical to our clean energy transition and electrification has an important part to play. Mining vehicles have unique needs and 3ME Technology’s battery system is a purpose-built solution that will enable the sector to capture more of the benefits of clean energy.

“3ME Technology has come up with a scalable solution that replaces carbon intensive diesel engines to enable mining vehicles to be powered by clean, green energy to drive down emissions. It also provides important health and safety benefits by removing diesel emissions to improve a mine’s air quality, and its bottom line, by saving on ventilation costs.”

The electrification of mining assets over the next five years through the installation of the 3ME Technology battery systems is estimated to abate 49,000 CO2-e/y on average and about 735,000 CO2-e over the lifetime of the assets, the CEFC says.

Mining vehicles now suitable for retrofit or replacement with 3ME Technology-based electric systems include light vehicles, personnel carriers, LHDs and integrated tool carriers. With a domestic market size of about 7,000 diesel vehicles operating in more than 400 mines across Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales, there is a significant potential market for 3ME Technology’s systems, according to the CEFC.

3ME Technology, CEO Justin Bain, said: “In developing the Bladevolt battery system, our focus has been on meeting the very high safety and operating demands of heavy vehicles used in Australia’s resources sector. With that challenge solved, and the investment backing of the CEFC, we are ready to scale up production and help the mining industry deliver better performance through lower emissions and improved operator safety.”

CEFC Executive Director, Western Australia and Resources, Rob Wilson said: “Electrifying mining fleet vehicles is not just good for sustainability, it makes good business sense for mines in terms of operations, health, energy efficiency and information optimisation.

“A growing interest in clean supply chains means manufacturers are increasingly preferencing low carbon materials from suppliers. Replacing diesel engines with electric technology enables suppliers to reduce the carbon footprint of their mobile and transport equipment.”

The CEFC invests to reduce carbon emissions across the Australian economy, including in the resources and industrial sectors. It has supported the evolution of new industry sectors related to the clean energy transition, and also invests in established producers to improve sustainability in mining through energy efficient equipment, low emissions transport and renewable energy. CEFC resource sector investments include financing a 10 MW solar plant and 6 MW battery at the DeGrussa copper-gold Mine, investing in the renewable supply chain to help Pilbara Minerals meet growing demand for lithium and supporting the establishment of a low emissions fertiliser industry with SO4 Limited.

The 3ME Technology investment aligns with the Australian Government Low Emissions Technology Statement by using emerging technologies to support emissions reduction from primary industries, it says.

The transaction is the first investment by ABGF, which was established to provide patient growth capital to Australian SMEs as a public-private partnership between the Australian Government, ANZ, NAB, CBA, Westpac, Macquarie, and HSBC.

Australia underlines hydrogen ambitions with new A$300 million fund

Australia is stepping up its efforts to support the growth of a clean, innovative, safe and competitive domestic hydrogen industry, with the launch of a new A$300 million ($192 million) fund.

An early priority of the A$300 million Advancing Hydrogen Fund, reflected in the Australian Government Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) Investment Mandate Direction 2020, will be investment in projects included in the ARENA Renewable Hydrogen Deployment Funding Round. This is a A$70 million grant program aiming to demonstrate the technical and commercial viability of hydrogen production at a large-scale using electrolysis.

The Australia government has been keen to establish a hydrogen industry, with investments made in the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) pilot project based on brown coal mined in the Latrobe Valley, and, more recently, a Future Energy Exports CRC.

CEFC CEO, Ian Learmonth, said: “Hydrogen has the potential to make a substantial contribution to our clean energy transition, reducing emissions across the economy while underpinning the development of an important domestic and export industry.

“Renewable hydrogen can enable the deep decarbonisation of notoriously difficult-to-abate sectors, particularly in transport and manufacturing, while accelerating the contribution of renewable energy across the economy.

“CEFC finance remains central to filling market gaps, whether driven by technology, development or commercial challenges. We are confident we can use our capital to help build investor confidence in the emerging hydrogen sector, which is an exciting extension of our investment focus.”

The CEFC Advancing Hydrogen Fund will draw on existing CEFC finance. In line with the CEFC Act, projects seeking CEFC finance through the Advancing Hydrogen Fund are required to be commercial, draw on renewable energy, energy efficiency and/or low emissions technologies and contribute to emissions reduction, the CEFC said.

Through the Advancing Hydrogen Fund, the CEFC expects to provide either debt or equity finance to eligible larger-scale commercial and industrial projects, typically requiring A$10 million or more of CEFC capital, it said.

Hydrogen is currently used mainly for ammonia production in Australia, accounting for around 70% of total hydrogen use nationally. The current ammonia production process is a material carbon emitter, accounting for almost 1% of total Australian greenhouse gas emissions, the CEFC says.

Learmonth added: “Accelerating the transition to green ammonia, produced using renewable energy, represents a sizeable abatement opportunity for Australia, with the potential to position Australia as a leading global producer and exporter of green ammonia.”

He said hydrogen is an extremely versatile energy carrier gaining significant support worldwide as the fuel of the future.

He added: “We see green hydrogen as offering the most credible pathway to decarbonisation for high emitting sectors and those which lack scalable electrification options. Together, these sectors are responsible for driving some 30% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

In considering investment proposals for the Advancing Hydrogen Fund, the CEFC Investment Mandate directs the CEFC to prioritise projects that promote the objectives of the National Hydrogen Strategy and that focus on one or more of the following:

  • Advancing hydrogen production projects;
  • Developing export and domestic hydrogen supply chains, including hydrogen export industry infrastructure;
  • Establishing hydrogen hubs; and
  • Other projects that assist in building domestic demand for hydrogen.

CEFC finance for the hydrogen sector has the potential to deliver significant benefits, according to CEFC, including:

  • Drive large-scale deployment of electrolyser technologies: leading to technology cost reductions, improved supply chain expertise, increased industry expertise and offtake opportunities;
  • Catalyse the hydrogen industry: to accelerate the deployment of large-scale renewable energy hydrogen technologies, including demand-side projects to achieve price discovery, increase transparency of current and projected economies of scale, and increase skills and market knowledge;
  • Access to tailored finance: providing investing support to project proponents as they seek to accelerate hydrogen developments; and
  • Support the implementation of the National Hydrogen Strategy: including its aims to create jobs, especially in regional areas, contribute to a cleaner environment, increase prosperity and enhance Australia’s fuel security.

The ARENA Renewable Hydrogen Deployment Funding Round is receiving expressions of interest for projects which demonstrate electrolysis and associated renewable hydrogen technologies at scale; facilitate a pathway to technical and commercial viability of renewable hydrogen in Australia; and provide price discovery and transparency in relation to the current and projected economics for renewable hydrogen technologies, CEFC says.