With operations in five countries across three continents generating more than 1GW of energy, distributed energy producer EDL plays a significant role in the world’s transition from traditional energy sources to decarbonized solutions.
This is most apparent in Australia, where EDL owns and operates 59 power stations with a total generating capacity of 730MW. Through our landfill gas and waste coal mine gas-fired power stations, we convert waste gas (methane that would otherwise have been emitted into the atmosphere) into electricity.
EDL is also seeing some exciting growth in our renewables portfolio, particularly in our remote energy assets that supply energy to communities and industries such as mining in off-grid locations. It is worth noting that, while off-grid services only 2% of Australia’s population, it accounts for around 6% of Australia’s electricity consumption.
Meeting the energy needs of remote communities
EDL has been meeting the energy generation needs of off-grid communities and industries since 1988. In doing so, we are fuel agnostic, and optimize our energy solutions to be not only sustainable but cheaper than the base case, which is usually diesel generation. Historically, we have used a mix of natural gas (including trucked LNG and CNG) and liquid fuels (including diesel) to do so.
However, since 2017, EDL has expanded our remote energy portfolio to include three hybrid renewable assets:
• Coober Pedy Hybrid Renewable Project—combines 4MW wind generation, 1MW solar generation, a 1MW/500kWh battery and other integration technologies with the existing diesel power station
• Cannington Power Station—a 3MW solar photovoltaic (PV) facility integrated with existing 40MW gas and diesel-fired power station
• Agnew Hybrid Renewable Project—a greenfields solution consisting of 18MW wind generation, 4MW solar generation, 13MW/4MWh battery energy storage system and 16MW gas and 3MW diesel power station.
Drivers of the transition to renewable energy
As with the main grid, in the past few years, we have seen and actively participated in the increasing move towards the hybridization of energy sources.
The shift has been sparked by the reducing cost of renewable technologies and the desire of companies and local councils in remote areas to improve their sustainability in a decarbonizing world.
Renewable energy enables miners to reduce exposure to the price volatility of traditional fuel sources such as diesel or gas and increase cost savings while at the same time curtail carbon emissions.
"EDL expects to supply more than 70% of the generation over the 20-year term from renewables"
At this point, the sustainability effort for remote customers has largely been voluntary. Australia has an emissions reduction target under the Paris Agreement but, to date, these customers haven’t been significantly affected by Federal or State renewable energy obligation or other emissions reduction policies.
However, it is fair to say that most remote customers are increasingly factoring in the need to improve their sustainability performance moving forwards, either anticipating greater regulation or social benefits from doing so.
Importantly, if not managed carefully, a switch to renewables can have serious impacts on reliability.
Hybrid technologies to enable the reliable transition to renewable energy
Hybrid technologies help bridge the gap between existing fuel sources and renewable energy, effectively managing the reliability risk and facilitating much higher penetration of renewable energy sources.
Hybrid renewable solutions offer remote communities a real cost-effective and more environmentally-friendly alternative to diesel and/or trucked LNG/CNG.
Our award-winning Coober Pedy Hybrid Renewable Project has demonstrated the viability of combining existing diesel power generation with wind, solar and other enabling technologies to reliably power an off-grid community of approximately 2,500 people.
Historically, the remote mining town of Coober Pedy has relied on diesel-fired generators for its electricity supply. EDL had been supplying that electricity from a 3.9MW diesel-fired power station since 2004. In July 2017, the power station was upgraded to a hybrid renewable project.
Today, the Coober Pedy project is operating reliably and is in fact, more reliable than the original diesel power station. EDL expects to supply more than 70% of the generation over the 20- year term from renewables.
The Cannington and Coober Pedy projects have paved the way for EDL to deliver the Agnew Hybrid Renewable Project for a remote mine in the goldfields of Western Australia. This project will help the mine go off the grid, with an independent, reliable power solution that will provide significant cost savings. It represents a major step in Australia’s journey to sustainable energy and EDL is pleased to be an active participant in this transition.
Once completed, the Agnew Hybrid Renewable Project will provide our customer’s mining operations with greater than 50% renewable energy over the long term, without compromising power quality or reliability.