Australian miner triples solar capacity at WA operation

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Perth-based power provider Nomadic Energy has boosted the capacity of the solar farm at Northern Star Resources’ Carosue Dam mine site in Western Australia’s (WA) goldfields region, adding a 3.3 MW re-deployable array to the existing 1 MW system.

Northern Star, which acquired the Carosue Dam operations in 2020 after a merger with Saracen Mineral Holdings, said the new solar farm was completed in August with Nomadic Energy confirming commissioning of the new off-grid installation has now been completed.

“We are delighted with the success of the rollout of the project and are looking forward to the further expansion in the new year,” Nomadic technical director Simon James said.

The new solar array, which features prefabricated, pre-wired Maverick solar modules designed by Sydney-based manufacturer 5B, complements the existing 1 MW solar farm which was commissioned in January 2020.

Nomadic said the expanded solar farm will produce a combined 7.2 GWh of renewable energy each year, offset 4,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually and will provide power 40% cheaper than previous means of generation.

Carosue Dam general manager Rob Williamson said the solar PV power was a boost to the operation’s financial and environmental credentials.

“It saves us money on our bottom line and helps us reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, so it’s a win-win for the company,” he said.

The solar farm features 5B’s Maverick units.

Image: Nomadic

Nomadic, which earlier this year was awarded $1 million as part of the WA government’s Clean Energy Future Fund to help finance the installation of 5 MW of modular, re-deployable solar panels at the mine site, is scheduled to install another 2 MW of solar PV at Carosue Dam by early 2022.

The works will bring the total on-site solar capacity to 6.3 MW as part of a six-year power purchase agreement (PPA) between Nomadic and Northern Star.

Nomadic commercial director Alex Blott previously described the Carosue Mine project as unique, saying the flexibility to redeploy the solar panels removes a key barrier to using green energy at mine sites, where a mine may cease operating before the cost of the solar panels has been recovered.

“We have taken a different approach to a conventional solar offering in that we are offering a short-term offtake agreement, where the client only pays for the power that is used or generated rather than asking the miner to buy the system upfront,” he said.

“If they want to move that to an alternative site or another area within Carosue Dam, then they are able to do that.”

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