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Gold Fields’ Granny Smith gold mine is set to install one of the world’s largest renewable energy microgrids powered by more than 20,000 solar panels and backed up by a 2 MW /1 MWh battery storage system.

The mining company has contracted mobile and modular power company Aggreko to design, build and operate the 8MW solar power generation system along with the battery system at Granny Smith, which is located east of Laverton in Western Australia’s Goldfields region.

The energy storage system will be integrated with 24.2MW of existing natural gas generation capacity.

The customer will procure the energy storage system under a rental contract.

Gold Fields executive vice president Australasia, Stuart Mathews, said the renewable energy microgrid is part of Gold Fields’ vision of leadership in sustainable gold mining.

“We expect the renewable power microgrid will be up and running at Granny Smith by 4Q19 and it will be a welcome addition to our suite of on-site energy solutions across other operations which will enable us to reduce our carbon footprint,” he said.

Aggreko AusPac managing director, George Whyte, said the solar, thermal and battery storage assets will be seamlessly integrated and managed by Aggreko’s control software platform – maintaining full system availability and optimising the lifetime of existing thermal assets.

“The solar-plus-battery system is projected to reduce fuel consumption by 10-13% – the equivalent of removing 2000 cars from the road – and produce about 18GWh of clean energy per year,” Whyte said.

The US commercial and industrial (C&I) market has seen an increase in “energy storage as-a-service” offerings, as many businesses are not willing to pay the upfront capital cost for battery storage.

Aggreko said that the single service contract Gold Fields signed up to required no capital outlay from the customer, which minimises risk and boosts accountability and performance.

Construction will commence in May and is expected to finish towards the end of 2019.

Fuel consumption at the mine could be reduced by 10% to 13%, with nearly all energy demand required for gold processing to be supplied by the hybrid power system.