Uptake of small-scale solar in mining sector continues


The zircon-rich Boonanarring Mineral Sands Project, an Image Resources mine 80km north of Perth, is set to receive a 2.3 MW solar farm. The project has been in the pipeline for some time, but the green light finally came after Climate Capital agreed to acquire a majority stake in the solar farm from Sunrise Energy. Sunrise Energy will still undertake the engineering, procurement and construction of the farm.

The 2.3 MW farm represents the first investment by Climate Capital after the company’s first-round capital raise in early 2018. Climate Capital bases its business model on the co-investment in solar, wind and hydro-electricity. Now that the Boonanarring project is in the books, Climate Capital can focus on its pipeline of projects across the National Electricity Market (NEM) and the Western Australian (WA) energy markets.

We are excited that this project is our first investment,” said Climate Capital CEO Dominic Churchill, “and have been working with Sunrise and Image for almost a year to ensure that all of the commercial arrangements are in place for a successful project.”

Neil, Canby, Executive Director of Sunrise Energy Group, also spoke to the potential of the corporate sector, such as the mining sector: “The project demonstrates the potential for the corporate sector to reduce energy costs and improve emissions profiles by facilitating renewable energy solutions.”

“In particular,” Canby noted, the project “demonstrates that distributed energy projects can be successful for commercial and industrial customers in Western Australia, which has a very different market to the NEM.”

“A key part of our investment thesis,” continued Churchill, “is that there are many opportunities to work directly with the corporate sector to develop smaller-scale projects that can avoid many of the network connection and commercial challenges faced by large and remote renewable projects.”

The behind-the-meter nature of the project helps with network connection issues. Still, Climate Capital is confident there are other opportunities around the country, up to 10 MW, for grid-connected renewable energy projects.

The rush to solar for the mining industry is picking up speed across the board, validating a report late last year by Fitch Solutions Macro Research, a unit of Fitch Group, which showed that the mining industry’s transition to renewables would speed up over coming years.

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