Entura at the forefront of renewables transition for mining sector

September 20, 2022

Earlier this month, two of Entura’s specialists attended the Energy and Mines Australia Summit in Perth.

Hybrid Energy Solutions Specialist Ray Massie led a broad-ranging panel discussion, ‘Key Considerations for Mining Hybrids’, which explored decarbonisation opportunities, implications and strategies for the sector. The panel included Entura’s Specialist Control Engineer Greg Koppens along with Darren Stralow of Bellevue Gold, Luke Sandery of OZ Minerals and Sue D’Arcy of ANZ.

Ray and Greg were encouraged by the mining sector’s strong interest in greater deployment and integration of renewable energy.

“Over the past few years, we’ve seen the sector develop a greater level of confidence about renewable energy,” said Ray. “It seems as if every mine in Australia is now putting in renewables at some scale.”

“There is no longer any question in the mining industry of whether hybrid renewable systems will work. The discussion is now focused on how to get projects going, the choice of delivery mechanism, and optimising the system to maximise benefits and match the mine life.”

Ray and Greg noted strong international interest in Australia’s progress in integrating renewables in the mining sector.

“Australia is generally considered to be leading the world in innovation and solutions for renewable energy in mining, and there are many lessons that international players can take home,” said Ray.

Entura is currently working with a number of mining clients in Western Australia to increase their uptake of renewable energy.

“Entura’s long-term real-world experience as an owner-operator of hybrid off-grid renewable energy systems, which began with our work on the world-leading King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project, is still a real distinguisher for us,” said Ray.

“We have a great depth of experience, and we can bring together all the pieces of the puzzle for our clients – including the power system modelling, hybrid control, original equipment manufacturers, and more. We’ve demonstrated that we can apply our experience to achieve very successful outcomes even on the largest projects, such as the high renewable-penetration system powering the Agnew Gold Mine.”

Another trend that Entura’s delegates noted from the Summit was a more holistic appreciation of the role of the mining sector within the energy transition and a deepening commitment to social licence.

“Attitudes about the role of renewables have matured,” said Greg. “Fuel costs are still a powerful driver, as is the need to remain competitive in a market that increasingly values carbon-free products, but there also seems to be a genuine shift in the mining industry towards embracing lower carbon opportunities simply because it is the right thing to do.”

“At the Summit, it was uplifting to hear thoughtful and passionate conversations about social licence, including protecting cultural heritage, preventing contamination of land and water, and creating local job opportunities,” said Greg.

After being held virtually over the last two years, the in-person event was an important opportunity to connect with other industry peers and learn from each other.

Ray recognised a strong appetite in the industry for greater collaboration.

“There is an enormous opportunity ahead for the mining sector, but there are also still many unknowns and challenges to resolve,” said Ray.

“Players in the industry recognise that collaboration will be needed to solve problems and share answers, which will benefit everyone more than competition and working in isolation.”

Our presence at the conference enabled us to demonstrate why Entura is a leader in advanced off-grid hybrid integration systems, and to lend our expertise to support the industry’s uptake of renewables.

“We are at the start of a very exciting time and an incredibly fast transition,” said Greg. “One of the challenges for the industry will be finding enough skilled people to meet the demand. We’re looking forward to continuing to apply our capacity to accelerate Australia’s clean energy future.”