Montem Resources (ASX: MR1) has established an energy transition steering committee to drive the development of its Tent Mountain renewable energy complex in Canada.
The committee will be chaired by Canadian power industry executive Will Bridge and will include Montem chief commercial officer Robert Bell and a group of subject matter experts across a range of technical and commercial specialties focused on renewable energy development in the region.
They will guide various work streams to drive the project’s development, implementing a program of works to progress it through the feasibility stage and monetisation.
Starting out the new year will be a focus on front-end engineering and design (FEED) comprising a detailed geotechnical evaluation leveraging data collected during a feasibility study for the Tent Mountain mine redevelopment project; and a detailed site-specific design for the reservoirs, penstocks and powerhouse, including routing for the powerlines.
The FEED stage will extend for approximately 18 months and an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) tender evaluation is expected to be completed in early 2023.
In parallel with these activities, the team will commence a process to establish an electric interconnection with Alberta’s grid using a stage gate process managed by Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) and regulated by the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC).
The process will enable distribution of power produced by Tent Mountain and will draw power required to recharge the complex.
Montem will work with AESO over the next six months on stage one, which will seek to establish a scope and plan for connecting the project to the grid.
Stage two will be the assessment phase, comprising an engineering study on the interconnection and a facilities design.
It is expected to be completed by the end of next year.
Montem will then initiate stage three of the process which involves preparation of an application to the AUC.
Historic mine property
Montem acquired the historic Tent Mountain mine property in 2016 and has been working on a plan to re-start operations which were suspended in the mid-1980s.
The asset is a surface mineable metallurgical coal deposit and will be designed around a conventional truck-and-shovel open cut mine, producing approximately 1.8 million tonnes of run-of-mine coal per year to yield 1.1Mt of annual saleable coal product.
In 2019, Montem investigated the potential for a pump hydro facility at Tent Mountain, and flagged a unique opportunity to establish a pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) development.
It revisited the re-start plan with specialist power and water consulting firm Entura Hydro Tasmania, complex energy advisor Boost Energy Ventures, GHD and other independent experts in Alberta to examine the options.
Studies indicated strong potential for the production of renewable energy and green hydrogen at Tent Mountain.
Montem is now focused on transitioning its strategy from a mine redevelopment to a new clean renewable energy complex comprising 320 megawatts of pumped hydro energy storage; a 100MW green hydrogen electrolyser; and a 100MW offsite wind farm.
The existing large water reservoirs which will power the energy complex are positioned on land owned by Montem.
The upper reservoir is connected to the powerhouse by pipes, with the turbines located in the powerhouse below.
The turbines can be reversed to pump water back up the hill, using electricity generated by wind power.
Southern Alberta is densely populated with wind power facilities, many of which are located within 60km of Tent Mountain.
By powering the hydrogen plant with wind power via the site’s energy storage, Montem said Tent Mountain could become the first significant scale “green” hydrogen plant in Alberta.
How pumped hydro works
Pumped hydro is effective energy storage alternative and works similar to a large battery by pumping and storing water to an upper reservoir when there is an excess of renewable energy such as sunshine or wind.
The water can then be released “on demand” into a lower reservoir passing through turbines to generate electricity at times of the day it is most needed.
Pumped hydro typically operates on a daily cycle, pumping up when there is an excess of renewable energy and energy prices are low, such as in the middle of the day, and generating energy at the times of the day when demand and prices are high, typically around breakfast and dinner time.
This energy is then sold into the power grid.
Pumped hydro is becoming an important part of Alberta’s energy future, with the “on demand” nature acting as a large battery helping to maintain a stable and reliable electricity supply for the province.
Alberta has traditionally accessed upwards of 30% of its energy supply from coal-fired electricity.
Montem said pumped hydro will become an increasingly important part of the economy as the province’s coal-fired power plants get set for retirement by the end of the decade.