Australian miner energizes 95 MW offgrid wind-solar-storage plant

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From pv magazine Australia

Liontown Resources, which is developing the Kathleen Valley mine near Leinster in Western Australia’s northern Goldfields, said it has reached an “incredible milestone” with the commissioning of the 95 MW hybrid power station that will supply electricity to the site almost complete.

Perth-based Liontown said the solar farm, battery energy storage system and the first three of the five wind turbines have now been commissioned and are collectively powering the accommodation village and process plant with renewable energy.

Liontown General Manager Kirit Chauhan said the process is another massive milestone in the development of the Kathleen Valley project.

“After more than two years of planning and now development and execution, we’ve completed the construction of our hybrid power station and are a long way through our testing and commissioning,” he said.

The Kathleen Valley power station comprises 16 MW of solar capacity, 30 MW of wind delivered from five 6MW turbines, and a 17 MW/19 MWh battery energy storage system. This is backed up by 27 MW of gas generation and 5 MW of diesel-fuelled generation.

When complete, the power station which developer Zenith Energy will operate under on a “build, own and operate” basis over 15 years, will provide a minimum of 60% renewable power for the mining operation.

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The thermal components are designed to operate in “engine off” mode at times, enabling Kathleen Valley to operate from 100% renewable energy during periods of high wind and solar resource.

Chauhan said the hybrid power station is already powering the camp and processing plant and will soon be powering the underground mine which is expected to start production within the coming months.

“Our aim from the very start was to operate with the lowest possible carbon footprint,” the company said. “We are proud to be powering our world-class project with renewable energy ahead of first production.”

The Kathleen Valley lithium project is poised to become a key player in the global lithium market, contributing to the supply chain for electric vehicles (EVs) and battery energy storage solutions.

It is projected that the automotive sector will account for 87% of all global lithium ion-battery demand in 2033. Aside from EV use, other sources of battery demand for lithium are also expected to experience strong growth as electrification and energy storage systems are adopted to accelerate the clean energy transition continues.

The Kathleen Valley project is expected to initially produce about 500,000 tons of spodumene concentrate – a critical mineral used in the production of lithium-ion batteries – per annum, but Liontown hopes to scale up production to 700,000 tons by 2029.

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