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Zenith plans Australia’s largest off-grid hybrid power plant for mining op

Zenith plans Australia’s largest off-grid hybrid power plant for mining op


Perth-based Liontown Resources is the latest mining company to back renewables to power its off-grid operations, engaging remote power generation specialist Zenith Energy to build a 95 MW hybrid solar PV, wind and battery energy storage system at its Kathleen Valley Lithium Project in the Goldfields region of Western Australia.

Liontown has awarded Zenith the contract for the supply of power at its Kathleen Valley project on a build, own and operate basis.

Zenith will construct a 95 MW hybrid power station at the Kathleen Valley project, being developed near Leinster, about 680 kilometres north-east of Perth. The hybrid power station will comprise 30 MW of wind capacity, a 16 MWp fixed-axis solar PV array, and a 17 MW/19 MWh battery energy storage system. The thermal power component will comprise 27 MW of gas generation and 5 MW of diesel standby generation.

With the thermal components of the power plant designed to operate in “engine off” mode at times, it is anticipated the hybrid power plant will deliver at least 60% renewable energy at project start-up and up to 100% during times of high wind and solar radiation.

Zenith managing director Hamish Moffat said with a combined 46 MW of generation capacity and 17 MW of BESS, the hybrid power station is expected to have the largest off-grid renewable capacity of any mining project in the country.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to showcase our expertise, and the ability of renewables to deliver reliable, continuous supply, to power an entire mining operation,” he said.

“It will once again raise the industry benchmark in renewable energy integration and demonstrates our commitment to power decarbonisation.”

The hybrid power plant will include a 16 MWp fixed-axis solar array.

Image: 5B

Moffat said the Letter of Award enables Zenith, which has installed capacity of more than 400 MW across WA and the Northern Territory, to undertake planning, engineering and design works and order long-lead items while the parties progress towards finalising a binding Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).

Liontown managing director and chief executive officer Tony Ottaviano said Zenith will be incentivised to operate the power station in a manner which maximises renewable power, with a renewable energy guarantee expected to be included in the definitive arrangements.

“We believe Zenith Energy is an ideal partner to delivery an industry leading hybrid power station to meet Liontown’s energy needs and requirements for a high-capacity renewable solution,” he said. “The hybrid power station proposed will enable Liontown to exceed our target of achieving at least 60% renewable energy at project start-up and beyond.”

Liontown expects construction of the Kathleen Valley project to commence later this year. The company said early grade control drilling is well advanced at the planned two open pits with mining expected to commence in Q1 2023 with first production of spodumene concentrate, a critical mineral used in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries, from Q2 2024.

The project is expected to initially produce about 500,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate per annum, but Liontown hopes to expand production to 700,000 tonnes by 2029.

Liontown has already signed binding offtake agreements for 450,000tpa of spodumene concentrate, representing 90% of the project’s initial planned production. Global car manufacturing giant Ford, US-based electric vehicle and battery manufacturer Tesla and South Korean battery maker LG Energy Solution have all inked agreements with the WA company.

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