Soluna Australia Pty Ltd – a 50-50 partnership between Lithium Australia NL (ASX: LIT) and DLG Energy Co. Ltd (China) – has executed an LOI to develop a renewable-power and battery- storage facility at a Rare Earth’s operation in Western Australia.
The letter of intent (LOI) with Northern Minerals Ltd (NTU) is for specialist facility at the Browns Range rare earth operation, in the east Kimberley region of Western Australia.
Browns Range is typical of many remote mining operations in that both the accommodation camp and processing plant there are reliant on diesel for power generation.
Together, Soluna and NTU plan to reduce the carbon footprint of the entire facility – initially by lowering the operating and maintenance costs associated with diesel power generation at the accommodation camp.
Soluna will provide the necessary expertise, as well as the photovoltaic power generator and energy-storage system (ESS) in the form of lithium-ion battery (‘LIB’) packs designed specifically for that application.
The LoI will allow Soluna to evaluate the:
- reduction in diesel consumption at the accommodation camp through the use of renewable energy and the concomitant lessening of carbon dioxide emissions and thus impact on the environment;
- lowering of operating costs associated with having a camp power supply not reliant on expensive diesel generation, and
- implementation of a power purchase agreement that allows Soluna to install the solar generator and ESS at Browns Range without any capital cost to NTU.
While initially Soluna’s analysis will focus on energy use within the accommodation camp, the goal longer term is to reduce the use of fossil fuels across the entire operation.
The next shipment of Soluna’s suite of modular, rack-mounted ESS products is due to arrive in Australia during September 2020 and will provide the LIB power storage solution required for NTU’s Browns Range project.
Lithium Australia MD Adrian Griffin, said Soluna’s use of LFP batteries in their ESS appealed to NTU, given the high safety standards, ability to perform well in hot environments, longevity and low maintenance requirements of this type of LIB. Indeed, LFP is the LIB chemistry of choice for operation ESS in the harsh conditions experienced at many remote mine sites.
“Lithium Australia is aware of the growing demand for off-grid and fringe-of-grid hybrid energy systems,” Mr Griffin said.
“Renewable energy won’t work without reliable storage and Soluna offers economical and sustainable solutions.
“We look forward to Browns Range becoming a successful renewable-energy case study. Current levels of interest are a good indicator that Soluna will grow significantly as Australia heads to a greener future.”