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Renewable energy integration in a mine site - A Techno-economic evaluation

Brown, Andrew (2017) Renewable energy integration in a mine site - A Techno-economic evaluation. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Microgrid is a small renewable distribution network that can be connected to the main utility grid and can be operated in islanded mode or disconnected mode. There are two different types of microgrid; ac and dc which depend on the type of renewable source. The variability of renewable energy must operate in conjunction with traditional energy forms.

A solar power system has been considered to increase the generation capacity of a mine site located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The Mine Site has recently upgraded the gas turbines operated on site to increase the power output of the power station. This research has used the upgrade of the gas turbines as a basis to compare the feasibility of integrating a solar power system as an alternative form of generation.

The summary findings are that it is feasible to integrate a 4MW solar power system into the Mine Site. In addition, it was found that there are significant environmental benefits that are associated with the solar power installation. These include a significant reduction in water consumption, a cutback in the sites fossil fuel requirements and a decrease in the power station’s carbon emissions.

Although the simulation results within the study indicate that the Mine Site’s hourly averaged, peak load profile does not benefit from the introduction of a battery energy storage system (BESS), this study has not taken into consideration the potential benefits of implementing a BESS to smooth out the Mine Site’s actual load profile. The Mine Site may also benefit from a BESS to offset the detrimental effects high ambient temperatures have on the performance of the gas turbines.

A sensitivity analysis showed that when the renewable fraction of the hybrid system was increased to expand the PV array size beyond 4MW, the solar integration was no longer feasible. Additionally, the simulations indicated that there was no cost or environmental benefits of operating the Mine Sites diesel generators.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Information Technology
Supervisor(s): Shafiullah, GM
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