Australia’s largest hybrid renewable microgrid officially opened
After successful commissioning at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Agnew Hybrid Renewable Microgrid was officially opened on 4 November 2021 in a celebration attended by dignitaries including the WA Minister for Mines and Petroleum; Energy; Corrective Services Bill Johnston.
Constructed, owned and operated by global energy producer EDL, the 56MW microgrid powers Gold Fields’ Agnew Gold Mine with an average of 50–60% renewable energy, even achieving up to 85% in favourable weather conditions. It is currently Australia’s largest hybrid renewable microgrid, and the first in the country to power a mine predominantly with wind- generated electricity.
The Agnew microgrid integrates five energy technologies to deliver high penetration renewable energy with 99.99% reliability, a non-negotiable requirement when powering the intense industrial load demanded by mining operations:
- five 110m wind turbines, each with a rotor diameter of 140m, delivering 18MW
- a 10,710-panel solar farm generating 4MW
- a 13MW/4MWh battery energy storage system
- off-grid 21MW gas/diesel engine power plant
- advanced microgrid control
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) provided $13.5 million in funding to the project as part of its Advancing Renewables Program, and was represented at the opening by Shadow Minister for Planning; Lands; Heritage Neil Thomson.
EDL Chief Executive Officer James Harman said: “It is great to be officially opening the groundbreaking Agnew Hybrid Renewable Project with Gold Fields. The Project has showcased engineering excellence at every stage—from its ambitious inception, to its skilful design and innovative integration of five energy technologies, to the complex construction and commissioning, including overcoming some major issues during the project’s final stages, caused by the pandemic and bushfires.
“Credit must go to Gold Fields for its vision and belief that we would successfully deliver this complex project; and credit must go also to the entire project team, including EDL and all our contractors, who worked tirelessly to safely deliver the Agnew Hybrid Renewable Project on time and on budget.
“Since we completed the microgrid in May 2020, and pulled the switch, it has been powering Gold Fields’ Agnew Gold Mine with clean, reliable renewable energy. EDL’s hybrid renewable journey has not stopped with this landmark project. As the energy transition continues at pace, our ultimate goal is 100% renewables, and we look forward to continuing our work to make this a reality.”
Gold Fields Executive Vice President Australasia Stuart Mathews said his company is enormously proud to have the opportunity to officially mark the delivery of its commitment to building a modern, sustainable hybrid renewable energy solution at the Agnew gold mine.
“This project is a testament to what can be achieved by taking courageous decisions and demonstrating true leadership in how we can sustainably energise our mines in remote environments. This is important to all of our stakeholders, including our employees, who want to see tangible outcomes in relation to our environmental, social and governance priorities and sustainability vision.
“With demonstrated success in construction and now operation, this project has provided a framework to take innovative energy solutions further across Gold Fields’ mine sites both in Australia and around the world.”
Minister Johnson congratulated Gold Fields and EDL on the completion of their award-winning project.
“I had the pleasure of visiting the completion of stage one of the project in 2019, when it was Australia’s first mine site to combine wind and solar power generation. The McGowan Government is supportive of mining and resources companies that are leading by example and embracing renewable energy solutions. This all contributes to our target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”