Hybrid Power Station For Liontown’s WA Lithium Project

Liontown hybrid power station project

Lithium from Liontown’s Kathleen Valley project in Western Australia will be helping to power electric cars – but what will be powering the mine?

The Kathleen Valley Lithium Project in Western Australia’s North-eastern Goldfields is to crank out a bunch of spodumene concentrate, which is used to produce lithium hydroxide utilised in cathodes for lithium-ion batteries. Kathleen Valley hasn’t started commercial production yet, but buyers have been lining up to claim dibs on output; including LG Energy Solution  and Tesla.

Liontown’s board signed off on full development of the Kathleen Valley Lithium Project in June this year, after receiving a helping hand from Ford; which will also offtake a big chunk of spodumene concentrate.

At this point, first production will commence in Q3 2024.

Solar + Wind + Battery + Gas + Diesel

There’s a lot to do between now and then, including sorting out power supply for the project. Yesterday, Liontown announced it had executed a Letter of Award with Zenith Energy, which is to supply electricity to the project for 15 years. Zenith will be providing an off-grid hybrid power station, consisting of:

  • 5 x 6MW wind turbines
  • 16MW solar farm
  • 17MW / 19MWh Battery Energy Storage System (BESS)
  • 27MW of gas generation
  • 5MW of diesel standby generation
  • Synchronous condensers

According to Liontown, the facility is expected to have the largest off-grid renewable capacity of any mining project in Australia.

“When fully constructed, this hybrid power station will enable Liontown to exceed our target of achieving at least 60% renewable energy at Project start-up and beyond,” said Liontown Managing Director and CEO Tony Ottaviano.

Zenith Energy will finance, design, construct, own, operate and maintain the power station; the operation of which is expected to coincide with process plant commissioning in 2024. A Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) is yet to be signed, but that should be inked within 90 days.

This won’t be Zenith Energy’s first rodeo when it comes to off-grid hybrid power generation. The company has more than 400MW of projects under its belt in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. But it appears this will be among the largest, the biggest involving solar energy and the first to also involve wind power.

“Zenith Energy is proud to continue to play a lead role in the energy transition and to provide our partners with a glide path to net zero,” said Zenith Energy Managing Director, Hamish Moffat

Mining In A Low Emissions Economy

It wasn’t that long ago the use of solar power at mining sites was big news; but these days it’s become pretty common. And that’s good news considering mining accounts for 9.5 per cent of Australia’s Scope 1 and 2 emissions – direct emissions from sources a company owns or controls, and indirect emissions associated with generation of energy purchased.

On a related note, early this month the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia (MRIWA) released a report showing how Australian miners can make a motza from the clean energy transition while supporting and accelerating national decarbonisation efforts.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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