Energy and Mines Australia Summit 2023

EDL’s Head of Growth, Jason Dickfos, is guest speaker at the Energy and Mines Australia Summit 2023, in Perth, Western Australia.

Now in its 7th year, the Energy and Mines Australia Summit brings together leaders from the energy industry to discuss the latest insights and strategies for realising net-zero targets.

Jason will speak about EDL’s progress in building hybrid power stations that are setting new benchmarks for sustainable and consistent supply of renewable energy. He will also share specific insights into the Agnew mine project and EDL’s key learnings. Agnew was the first mine in Australia to be predominantly powered by wind, providing at least 55-60% of the mine’s power from renewable energy.

“Our journey towards decarbonisation is in motion and we are making continuous technological advancements towards a lower reliance on fossil fuels. EDL is proud to be at the forefront of this movement and I’m looking forward to sharing some of our recent achievements as well as hearing about other innovation in our industry,” he said.

In the lead up to the Summit, Jason spoke with Energy and Mines Magazine and shared his vision of the roadmap towards decarbonisation, and some of the speedbumps and new terrain that his team has encountered.

Q. Two years after commissioning the Agnew mine project, what are some of the key operational results?

A: Agnew was the first mine in Australia to be predominantly powered by wind. The award-winning power station provides a minimum 55-60% of the mine’s power from renewable energy, sometimes reaching over 80% in optimal conditions. Agnew has increased reliability, lowered operational costs, reduced Gold Field’s carbon footprint, and improved energy efficiency. It has also provided flexibility, enabling a balanced mix of energy sources based on changing demands and availability.

Q. How did the addition of wind turbines in 2020 change the management of the power station?

A: The wind farm required interfacing with the thermal station, solar farm and batteries to ensure optimal performance, significantly increasing Agnew’s RE percentage. The wind energy produced at night complements solar energy generated during the day, which enables a higher overall supply of renewable energy.

Q. What are some of the lessons you learned from Agnew that are impacting the design of new projects?

A: The first lesson we learned from Agnew was how to configure and operate the thermal plant in terms of the stop/start system and the value of using diesel instead of gas as the thermal component. The second lesson was in relation to how batteries can be used in a hybrid solution to provide consistent and secure energy, safeguarding against frequency/voltage trips or spokes. It’s great to have renewable projects like Agnew, Jabiru and Coober Pedy that continually provide real-time data to refine our model.

Q. What new technologies are you working on and what percentage of renewable energy are you working towards?

A: Our current projects aim to reach 90% renewable energy production. Our focus is on the value of the microgrid controller, which prioritises renewables before fossil fuels whilst optimising energy storage. We continually look at the day-to-day performance of our existing projects to optimise how the microgrid controller schedules energy generation and storage.

Q. What is the optimal solution for energy supply on mines?

A: All mines share the common goal of reducing reliance on fossil fuel-based energy while also cutting costs. However, the optimal solution for every mine will vary depending on energy needs, renewable resources, the project term and the assumed costs of fossil fuels and carbon. Using our proprietary tools, we can assess the mine’s needs and resources to determine the optimal renewable energy percentage for that particular mine, and consider hundreds of different scenarios to identify the lowest electricity cost. We work together with mines to find the best solution, helping them decarbonise and reduce energy costs over the long term.

Jason Dickfos (L) with EDL CEO James Harman at the Agnew Hybrid Renewable Microgrid opening (photo credit & copyright ©: ‘Csfoto – Christian Sprogoe photographer’)