Lithium Australia NL (ASX:LIT) (FRA:3MW) energy-storage division Soluna Australia Pty Ltd will work with Northern Minerals Ltd (ASX:NTU) (OTCMKTS:NOURF) with the aim of developing a renewable-power and battery storage facility at the Browns Range rare earth operation.
Soluna, a 50-50 partnership between Lithium Australia and DLG Energy Co Ltd (China), has executed a letter of intent (LOI) with Northern Minerals for the renewable energy option at the remote WA mining camp.
Browns Range is around 1,900 kilometres northeast of Perth in the East Kimberley and is typical of many remote mining operations in that the accommodation camp and processing plant are reliant on diesel for power generation.
Plan to reduce carbon footprint
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.
Necessary expertise, as well as the photovoltaic power generator and energy storage system (ESS), will be provided by Soluna.
The ESS will be in the form of lithium-ion battery (LIB) packs designed specifically for that application.
Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said: “Lithium Australia is aware of the growing demand for off-grid and fringe-of-grid hybrid energy systems.
“Renewable energy won’t work without reliable storage and Soluna offers economical and sustainable solutions.”
LIT shares have been as much as 8% higher to 5.4 cents intra-day, up from 3.2 cents on March 24.
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.
Goal to reduce fossil fuel use
While initially Soluna’s analysis will focus on energy use at the accommodation camp, the longer-term goal is to reduce the use of fossil fuels across the entire Browns Range operation.
The next shipment of Soluna’s suite of modular, rack-mounted ESS products is due to arrive in Australia in September 2020 and will provide the LIB power storage solution required for NTU’s project.
Soluna provides safe, quality ESS and rackmount battery modules for residential, commercial, industrial and mining applications.
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 operating ESS in the harsh conditions experienced at many remote mine sites.
“Renewable energy case study”
Griffin said: “We look forward to Browns Range becoming a successful renewable energy case study.”
Soluna will offer no-cost installation of its ESS products in combination with a power-purchase agreement, thereby providing residential and business consumers with a low-capital entry point for both domestic and industrial applications.
It is anticipated that Soluna sales will begin next month, supported by further product imports in September.
Interest in Soluna’s ESS range is high, as a consequence not only of product quality and lack of initial outlay but also the advantages of built-in financial tracking.
The package includes predetermined budgets and targets, allowing consumers to monitor the performance of their system by way of a web-based portal.
Griffin concluded: “Current levels of interest are a good indicator that Soluna will grow significantly as Australia heads to a greener future.”