Australia is a land girt by sea, solar and wind. All of which makes for renewable energy projects with massive potential.
Companies in the mining and energy sectors produce much of Australia’s carbon emissions. It will be no small feat transforming them to carbon-neutral entities. Some of the larger mining companies have already committed to going neutral in the next 20-30 years, so it’s no surprise they are rapidly exploring options like renewable energy to help them achieve their goal. That’s where Engenium comes in.
Australian project management and engineering consultancy, Engenium, is looking to help mining and resource companies make the most out of reducing their carbon footprint. Based in Western Australia, they have an impressive amount of experience in justifying, designing and delivering renewable energy and mining projects across Australia and various international locations.
Managing Director of Engenium, Wayne Peel, believes their location is part of his company’s success in competing against other global project management and engineering firms.
“Perth is like the Silicon Valley of the mining world,” he said
“With so many companies and so many projects, we get to see a wide range of approaches tried, tested and built here. We are at the epicentre of it all, and we’ve been fortunate to gain a lot of experience through that.”
Engenium has outlined various strategies that mining companies can adopt for reducing their carbon footprint as part of its Engenium Insights series. They include automation, alternate fuels, electrification, mitigation and recapture and various forms of renewable energy. Many of these are put to good use across a range of projects for Engenium.
This year, Engenium was engaged by Alinta on the Alinta Fortescue Solar Gas Hybrid Project, a 60 MW solar farm and 35 MW battery storage facility in the Pilbara region. They also partnered with TransAlta for the project management of two projects for BHP Billiton Nickel West which are already underway; an 18.5 MW solar farm and battery storage project at Leinster and Mount Keith operations, and a 17 MW waste heat steam turbine system at Kalgoorlie.
TransAlta is a Canadian company that now has more than 8,000 MW of owned generating capacity across multiple fuel types throughout Australia, Canada and the United States. They are one of the largest wind operators in Canada with a goal of being a leader in renewable energy and onsite generation, For them, Australia is a key market to achieve both objectives.
“We have more than a hundred years of experience working with all the major fuel and energy types around the world,” said Kelvin Koay, Managing Director of TransAlta Energy Australia.
“What we’re doing now is bringing our extensive experience in renewable solutions to off-grid locations to help customers achieve their decarbonisation targets. Large grids can be limited to bring on more renewables as they have physical grid constraints built for the generation mix of 30 years ago. There’s a lot of exciting opportunities for off-grid renewable projects in unlocking further decarbonisation potential, especially here in Australia.”
Peel agrees that distributed microgrids are one of the major trends across projects he sees at Engenium as well. The approach helps to balance out the energy mix and can act as a sort of fail-safe should an issue affect any one energy source.
Another emerging trend is the focus on a ‘circular economy’ and exploring ways to repurpose and reuse as much of the mining materials and by-products as possible. This approach is particularly suitable for mine closures or solar rehabilitation projects.
“The early adopters in the mining sector are just beginning to roll out their renewable energy projects now, so we can expect to see a lot more innovation, testing and implementation before we realise the full potential of renewables,” he said.
“We’ll be there to help them justify, design and navigate the challenges of making these projects a reality.”
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