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5B and Zenith Energy partner up for mining industry solar deployment

5B and Zenith Energy partner up for mining industry solar deployment



Sydney-based solar innovator 5B has signed an Ecosystem Framework Agreement-Deployment (ESAD) with independent power producer Zenith Energy which will see the duo combine to deploy 5B’s prefabricated and rapidly deployable Maverick solar systems on mine sites. 

5B has been busy in recent months. In January the modular pioneer announced a $33.4 million tech innovation program to accelerate the delivery of what the Federal government as called “ultra low cost solar”. The program is supported by a whopping $14 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). 

The funding, which comes less than a year after 5B closed a $12 million funding round, including investment support from former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Smart Energy Council director Simon Holmes à Court, includes a heavy portion devoted to the realisation of solar installation robots

And in December 2021, 5B acquired an Adelaide manufacturing plant ahead of the global gigawatt-scale push of its rapidly deployable, modular, prefabricated Maverick solar arrays.

So it should come as no surprise that Zenith managing director Hamish Moffat described the partnership as the next step in reducing emissions across Zenith’s legacy portfolio. 

“We’ve been looking to increase renewable assets across multiple sites for some time,” said Moffat, “the question has always been around how we can achieve that in such a way that is economically viable. The 5B Maverick system is re-deployable, meaning it can be integrated on mines with shorter tenure, and moved at the end of operations at those sites.” 

5B’s Maverick arrays have proven popular with remote mining operations.

Image: Nomadic Energy

It is therefore the Maverick system’s re-deployability that made the business case viable. “It offers Zenith greater ability to leverage value from our initial capital expenditure, making it more cost effective to offer expanded renewable energy solutions for our clients.” 

5B co-founder and CEO Chris McGrath seconded the importance of the strategic partnership, calling it a validation of 5B MAverick’s ability to reduce deployment complexity. 

“This has been a major barrier for solar installations on mine sites worldwide,” said McGrath. “The agreement also shows that our cost reduction efforts over the past two years have worked – we’ve hit the price point where 5B Mavericks can be viably packed up, and redeployed elsewhere, substantially reducing the risk of stranded assets in minding, agricultural and industrial operations.” 

According to the companies the 5B Maverick system will be installed at three sites off the bat, with more likely to come in the future. 

Nova, WA

The first of these is IGO’s Nova nickel mine in the Fraser Range of Western Australia, approximately 360km southeast of Kalgoorlie, the country of the Ngadju People, Traditional Owners of the land. The mine produces nickel, copper and cobalt. With the aid of a 10MW 5B Maverick system and a 10MW battery energy storage system (BESS), Zenith is aiming for its first ‘engine-off’ project, whereby the mine site will be able to operate for up to nine consecutive hours on renewable energy. 

Warrawoona, WA

The second site is Calidus’s Warrawoona Gold Project in the Pilbara Goldfield of Western Australia, approximately 150km southeast of Port Hedland on Nyamal country. Zenith is set to install a 4MW DC solar farm at the site using 5B Maverick, along with a 3MW/3MWh AC BESS to further reduce gas consumption on the site. 

King of the Hills 

Thirdly, Red 5’s King of the Hills Gold Mine in the Eastern Goldfields region of Western Australia, 28km north of the town of Leonora, where 2MW of 5B Maverick is already being deployed and to be supported by a BESS. 

McGrath said 5B was keen to partner with Zenith, given the IPPs strong reputation and credibility in providing renewable energy solutions to the mining and resources industry. “It’s great to see Zenith leveraging the ability of the 5B Maverick solar arrays to deploy up to 10 times faster, more safety than single axis tracker and fixed tilt solar systems, to deliver a full solution for their customers.” 

Similarly, Moffat said the partnership was an opportunity for Zenith to lead the industry in demonstrating the ability and capacity to effectively integrate renewable energy solutions. 

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