Perth, Australia-based Lithium Australia NL (ASX: LIT), aspiring to establish a circular battery economy, has announced that its energy-storage division, Soluna Australia Pty Ltd has executed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with Northern Minerals Ltd (ASX: NTU) to develop a renewable-power and battery-storage facility at NTU’s Browns Range rare earth operation, situated around 1,900 kilometres northeast of Perth in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia.
The accommodation camp and processing plant at Browns Range, which is typical of many remote mining operations, are both reliant on diesel for power generation. To achieve a more sustainable and environment friendly power generation pathway, Soluna Australia and Northern Minerals, under the collaboration, plan to build a renewable-energy and battery-storage facility for reducing the carbon footprint, which would also lower the operating and maintenance costs that comes with using with diesel power generation.
Soluna Australia will provide the necessary expertise, as well as the photovoltaic power generator and energy-storage system (ESS) in the form of lithium-ion battery (LIB) packs designed specifically for that application.
Soluna Australia, formed under a 50-50 partnership between Lithium Australia NL and China-based DLG Energy Co. Ltd, offers safe, premium-quality ESS and rackmount battery modules for a range of applications including residential, commercial, industrial and mining. Utilising sustainable practices that encompass the technologies of Lithium Australia and its subsidiaries VSPC Ltd and Envirostream Australia, Soluna is empowered to offer products with sound environmental credentials from the point of manufacture right through to end-of-life management, with spent products sent back into the battery supply chain.
Renewable power generation and Soluna’s ESS plan
Initially, Soluna is primarily focussing on the analysis of energy use within the accommodation camp, with the longer-term goal being the reduction of fossil fuel usage across the entire operation to make it more sustainable and environment friendly.
The LoI will enable Soluna to evaluate the:
- Reduction in diesel consumption at the accommodation camp by using renewable energy and the concomitant lessening of carbon dioxide emissions and thus impact on the environment;
- Cutting down the operating costs related with having a camp power supply not reliant on expensive diesel generation; and
- Implementation of a power purchase agreement which would allow Soluna Australia to install the solar generator and ESS at Browns Range without any capital cost expenses for NTU.
Planned arrival of Soluna ESS products
Soluna Australia’s the next shipment of modular, rack-mounted ESS products is expected to come in during September 2020 in Australia and this would provide the solution for LIB power storage required for the Browns Range project.
LFP Batteries For Safety And Performance
One aspect that particularly appealed to Northern Minerals is the use of Lithium ferro phosphate (LFP) batteries by Soluna in the ESS products, which boasts of high safety standards, longevity, low maintenance requirements, and have the ability to perform well in hot environments. This makes LFP the preferred LIB chemistry for operating ESS in difficult conditions encountered at different isolated mine locations.
Soluna Advancing Towards First Sales
Lithium Australia has also informed that Soluna Australia would install its ESS products at zero costs along with a power purchase agreement. With this, the Company would provide business as well as residential users with a low-cost entry point for both industrial and domestic applications. With first orders received, the Company expects ESS sales and revenue to commence in June 2020, supported by further product imports in September 2020.
Due to the product quality and lack of initial outlay along with the advantages of built-in financial tracking, interest in Soluna’s ESS range is quite high. The package consists of predetermined budgets and targets to enable consumers to examine the functioning (via web-based portal) of their system.
On 7 May 2020, the LIT stock closed the trading at $ 0.054, climbing up 8% by $ 0.004.