Lithium Australia’s (ASX: LIT) 50%-owned energy storage division Soluna Australia has teamed up with rare earth developer Northern Minerals (ASX: NTU) to collaborate on a renewable-energy and battery storage facility.
The duo has inked a letter of intent to develop the facility at Northern Minerals’ remote Browns Range mining camp located about 1,900km north-east of Perth in Western Australia.
According to Lithium Australia, Browns Range is typical of many remote mining operations in that its accommodation camp and processing plant are reliant on diesel for power generation.
As part of the collaborative effort, Soluna and Northern Minerals plan to reduce the mining camp’s carbon footprint by reducing diesel consumption.
Under the deal, Soluna will contribute its renewable energy and battery expertise in addition to a photovoltaic power generator and energy storage system in the form of lithium ferro phosphate (LFP) battery packs.
In addition to lowering the mining camp’s carbon footprint, operation costs are also expected to decline due to the camp no longer requiring expensive diesel for power generation.
Soluna will also implement a power purchase agreement that enables it to install the generator and storage system without any capital cost to Northern Minerals.
The longer-term goal will be to expand the renewable energy and battery storage system so that it can power the entire Browns Range operation.
Soluna’s LFP battery storage solutions
Soluna’s LFP batteries appealed to Northern Minerals due to their ability to perform well in hot environments, low maintenance requirements and enhanced longevity.
It is expected the next modular energy storage solution shipment will arrive in September and will then be transported to Browns Range.
“Lithium Australia is aware of the growing demand for off-grid and fringe-of-grid hybrid energy systems,” managing director Adrian Griffin said.
“Renewable energy won’t work without reliable storage and Soluna offers economical and sustainable solutions.”
First Soluna sales are expected to begin in June 2020, with interest in the company’s energy range described as “high” due to product quality and the company’s no-cost installation offer in combination with a power purchase agreement.
Mr Griffin added that current levels of interest in Soluna’s solutions were a “good indicator” that the company will “grow significantly”.