$14m for energy, innovation projects

08/04/2022 - 15:01

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An electric vehicle for underground mines and a geothermal development in the Mid West are among more than a dozen projects to have secured grants worth nearly $14 million.

$14m for energy, innovation projects
Safescape has developed the electric vehicle for underground mines. Photo: Safescape

An electric vehicle for underground mines and a geothermal development in the Mid West are among more than a dozen projects to have secured grants worth nearly $14 million.

The recipients include companies as diverse as Strike Energy, Alinta Energy, Castelli Group’s Advanced Energy Resources and Safescape.

The state government has offered $11 million to seven clean energy projects in regional Western Australia.

Frontier Impact Group’s renewable diesel project in Narrogin, which is part of the FutureEnergy Australia joint venture with Carnarvon Energy, has been offered $2 million.

It aims to build a high-temperature pyrolysis plant to produce 18 million litres of renewable diesel per year, as well as biochar and wood vinegar.

Strike Energy has been offered $2 million to drill a pilot well to demonstrate geothermal energy near Dongara to enable a future 180-megawatt project.

Another project offered $2 million is Power Research and Development’s ‘pumped-up Walpole’.

It plans to build a 1.5MW pumped hydroelectric storage in Walpole using two farm dams to store 30MWh and increase grid reliability.

Advanced Energy Resources has been offered $1.8 million to build a biomass, wind and battery microgrid incorporating existing solar generation to supply a piggery and citrus farm near Moora.

Alcoa of Australia has been offered $1.7 million to pilot replacing gas with electricity for calcination of alumina to decarbonise the refining process.

Alinta Energy has been offered $1.5 million to help cover the cost of adding battery storage to a gas-fired power station in Port Hedland, to provide instant support to the grid when needed.

Similarly, Metro Power Company has been offered $340,000 to add a battery to an existing solar farm in Merredin.

The government said the seven projects were expected to invest a total of $197 million and avoid around 132,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.

Environment Minister Reece Whitby said the projects would help to decarbonise existing industry and develop new low carbon industries.

“These seven projects will not only reduce carbon emissions and create jobs across the state, but they will test critical low carbon technologies and support Western Australia to achieve our target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,” Mr Whitby said.

Meanwhile, the federal government-backed METS Ignited has awarded $2.5 million of matched funding to support commercialisation of Australian technology in mining services.

Chief executive Adrian Beer said the latest round of grants helped to deliver safety, autonomy and low emissions technology.

The recipients include Safescape and 3ME Technology, which have worked together on a battery-electric vehicle designed to handle the operating environment of underground mines.

The Bortana EV vehicle is based on the Marrua ute, made by Brazilian manufacturer Agrale for the military, with EV propulsion units fitted in Australia.

Safescape, which has operations in WA and Victoria, is expanding to support 10 vehicles per month, with first production scheduled for the second half of 2022. 

Sydney-based 3ME Technology will manufacture the specialist battery systems for these vehicles, following five years of R&D.

Safescape and 3ME are part of the electric mine consortium, launched last year with backing from South32OZ MineralsIGOGold Fields and Barminco.

Other companies awarded METS grants include MyPass Global, ZERO Automotive, Universal Field Robots, AMOG and Omniflex.

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