IGO Limited looks set to test VSUN Energy’s vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) energy storage technology in a standalone power system (SPS) application at its Nova nickel operation in Western Australia.
An SPS supplies power independently to the electricity grid and typically comprises a combination of solar, wind, battery and backup generation from diesel or gas. The SPS at Nova, supplied by Australian Vanadium Ltd subsidiary VSUN, will power a bore pump with a target of 100% renewable energy use.
The SPS heading to IGO’s nickel operation will be based around a 300 kWh VRFB from Spanish manufacturer E22. The system has been designed to provide a 100% renewable energy supply for much of the year, with periods of long cloud cover being supported by a diesel genset, Australian Vanadium said.
Total renewable penetration of 85-90% is being targeted for the trial of the VRFB-based SPS system.
The SPS is redeployable for use on multiple mines sites and locations over its 20-plus year service life, Australian Vanadium said. The target of long periods with “diesel-off” will not only significantly reduce the carbon emissions of diesel generator powered bore fields, but also offer substantial reductions in operating hours for service personnel, according to the company.
“These two significant benefits indicate a potentially rapid growth market segment for this robust technology,” the company said.
Australian Vanadium Managing Director, Vincent Algar, said: “Working with IGO on this project will accelerate the objectives of the companies and broader mining industry towards carbon neutrality. The robustness of VRFB energy storage makes it perfectly suited to the tough environments found on many Australian mine sites.”
He added: “The installation of an SPS based on vanadium technology for pumping applications enables diesel to be almost entirely eliminated, helping reduce overall carbon emissions and providing reliable green power. We look forward to trialling and then duplicating this system based on an Australian invention and with Australian-made vanadium electrolyte from AVL in Western Australia.”
IGO’s Chief Operating Officer, Matt Dusci, said: “IGO’s strategic focus is on those products that are critical to enabling clean energy solutions, to create a better planet. As part of our strategy to deliver those products, we aspire to be carbon neutral across our business and to do this, in part, by leveraging renewable energy solutions and innovation to reduce emissions at our remote exploration and mining operations. We are excited to be collaborating with AVL on this pilot at our Nova operation.”
In July 2021, AVL was awarded a A$3.69 million ($2.69 million) Federal Government manufacturing grant under the Modern Manufacturing Initiative Resources Technology and Critical Minerals Processing National Manufacturing Priority roadmap. Part of the matched funding is allocated to development of the SPS that will be installed at IGO’s Nova nickel operation.
The remainder of the grant will be used to finalise the high purity processing circuit for the Australian Vanadium Project; build and operate a commercial vanadium electrolyte manufacturing plant producing 33 MWh/y and manufacture a prototype of a residential VRFB.
The agreement with IGO will end 12 months from the date of system commissioning and first power production, unless extended or terminated in accordance with the agreement. The SPS is being provided to IGO at no charge, with the option to purchase or rent the system at the end of the trial period. The project will enable IGO to analyse the performance of the SPS for potential use in its dewatering and bore pumps systems.