Pacific Energy unveils ‘world first’ hybrid power solution at mine site

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Pacific Energy subsidiary KPS Power Generation said it had delivered a “world first” hybrid power station incorporating a 3.5 MW solar PV array and electric turbo compounding (ETC) technology fitted to the existing 10 MW diesel generator at Australian miner Iluka Resources’ $420 million Jacinth-Ambrosia mine site in South Australia’s remote north-west.

Pacific Energy chief executive Jamie Cullen said the combining of solar PV with ETC technology, which improves the efficiency of diesel generators by recovering waste energy from the exhaust, is like nothing seen before.

“This is an exciting development for both Pacific Energy and Iluka Resources in what we believe is a world first – integrating solar and ETC technology with an existing fossil-fuel facility,” he said.

Constructed by Juwi Renewable Energy, the Brisbane-based subsidiary of German company juwi, the renewable energy/diesel hybrid power solution incorporates solar PV generation with ETC technology and an upgraded control system.

The ETC technology allows the diesel generators to maintain the same power output while using less fuel and producing lower CO2 emissions, The technology has been fitted to each of the existing 10 1 MW generators.

Cullen said the conversion to a hybrid power solution would go a long way to reducing the mine’s electricity demand with the power plant expected to deliver almost 21% of the mine site’s annual electricity needs.

The new solar powered hybrid system is expected to cut diesel use at the site by more than 2 million litres a year.

Image: Iluka Resources

“The reduction in diesel consumption and improvement in fuel efficiency is expected to save over 2 million litres of diesel and over 5,500 tonnes of CO2 per year, every year, for at least the next seven years,” he said.

Iluka general manager for Australian operations Shane Tilka said the shift to a hybrid solution at the Jacinth-Ambrosia operation, which is capable of processing up to about 1,000 tonnes of ore per hour, is exactly what the company needed to do.

“The move from diesel to hybrid energy at Jacinth Ambrosia marks an important evolution in Iluka’s Australian operations. With the large solar resources available to us, the conversion is aligned with Iluka’s purpose to deliver sustainable value,” he said.

“The mineral sands and rare earths produced by Iluka are used in a range of sustainable development and renewable energy applications, including solar panels and wind turbines. It is exciting to see our first site powered by the same technology for which the products we mine and process are essential to manufacture.”

KPS, which has operated the 10 MW diesel facility at the Jacinth-Ambrosia mine site since it opened in 2009, will own and operate the hybrid project for an initial term of seven years.

The Jacinth-Ambrosia project is the sixth hybrid project carried out by juwi in Australia, with the company saying hybrid solutions have become a focus for its Australian arm.

Juwi is also responsible for Western Australia’s Sandfire DeGrussa Hybrid Project, which comprises 10.6 MW of PV, a 6 MW battery and a diesel generator, and has been operating since 2016.

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