A Saft lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery energy storage system (BESS) is playing a key role in helping Gold Field’s Agnew mine make the switch from fossil fuels to wind and solar power. In Saft’s first project for EDL, the BESS has been installed within a hybrid renewable microgrid with an installed capacity of 56 MW, which is the first to incorporate wind power on a large scale at an Australian mine. Energy storage is critical to enable the EDL microgrid to maintain power quality as it integrates an increasing level of volatile and unpredictable wind and solar energy.

“The Agnew hybrid renewable microgrid was completed on 1 May 2020 and has proven to be a great success – under the right weather conditions, the microgrid has delivered up to 85 percent of the site’s power requirements with renewable energy,” says EDL Chief Executive Officer James Harman. “The battery energy storage system is critical to this success. That’s why we selected Saft’s Li-ion technology – it offered a complete solution with a proven track record. We’d be happy to work with Saft again.”

The Agnew Gold Mine is an underground operation located 1,000 kilometers northeast of Perth in Western Australia. The site covers over 600 square kilometers and has the capacity to process 1.3 million tonnes of ore a year.

The remote off-grid location means that the Agnew site has to generate its own electricity. Gold Fields is committed to sustainable and innovative power solutions. It engaged EDL in a 10-year agreement to build and operate Australia’s largest hybrid renewable energy microgrid.

The first project phase involved the construction of a 4 MW solar farm and a 21 MW gas/diesel engine power plant. This was followed by five wind turbines for 18 MW of generation, a microgrid controller and Saft’s 13 MW/4 MWh energy storage system.

The turnkey BESS at the Agnew mine comprises six of Saft’s Intensium Max+ 20M 20-foot containers together with a power conversion system (PCS), transformer and MV switchgear installed in three 40-foot containers. Its main role is to provide power quality support for the microgrid to maximize the usage of variable renewable energy. It will also provide ultra-fast-reacting spinning reserves to help maintain grid stability, minimize the need for fossil fuel-based generation units to run idle for this purpose.

The rugged Intensium Max+ 20M design means that no modifications were required to ensure a long operational life in the demanding dusty and sandy desert conditions, where peak temperatures can reach 48°C. To maintain maximum uptime and availability for the BESS, Saft is providing remote monitoring together with a service contract including yearly onsite maintenance.

The Intensium Max+ 20M is fully fitted out and tested by Saft at its manufacturing hub in Jacksonville, Florida. As a result, the containers were delivered to site ready to ‘plug and play’.