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Solar power generation in a mining town

Chalk, Ryan (2017) Solar power generation in a mining town. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Climate change is a pertinent issue facing governments and societies around the world. The industrial revolution has resulted in a steady increase in the average global temperature. The mining and energy production industries have been significant contributors to this change prompting governments to intervene by promoting low emission technology within these sectors. This thesis reviews the energy problem in Australia and the mining sector with a focus on the energy requirements and production methods utilised in Newman WA. BHP operate the largest open cut iron ore mine in the world requiring substantial amounts of energy to maintain.

Renewable energy in the form of utility scale solar photovoltaics (PV) provides a solution to these problems by providing emission free energy which can be used to supplement the existing natural gas turbines in operation. This research presents a custom renewable solution for the Newman scenario considering the specific township network, local weather conditions and load profile. A summary of the required PV output is presented to supply slightly over 50% of the towns power requirements during the peak (summer) period, resulting in close to full coverage in the trough (winter) period. Power Factory is used to simulate the characteristics of the existing infrastructure and produces results of integrating PV. These results conclude that the problems requiring mitigation strategies unacceptable levels of harmonics and low power factor.

Strategies are proposed to control these issues predominantly through the use of high quality, made for purpose inverters. Results show that use of inverters with harmonic filtering dramatically reduce the level of harmonic injections to an acceptable level according to Australian standards. Furthermore, the configuration of inverters to supply active and reactive power assist in mitigating low power factor problems.

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