Renewable energy opportunities

16 Dec 2010Archived News Climate Change Matters

Following changes in renewable fuel sources and energy programs, most notably the Commonwealth’s Renewable Energy Target of 20% renewable power available nationally by 2020, new opportunities have emerged for mining and resources companies. The case for both biodiesel and on-site wind has become more attractive as proven, financially viable power generation options.

Biodiesel generation

Mining sites often generate power locally from diesel. An alternative, which is both cost effective and relatively simple to change, is to use a biodiesel blend as a fuel. As a renewable energy source biodiesel can:

  • Generate valuable Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), which can be sold through the market-based, online REC Registry. Under the Mandatory Renewable Energy Scheme principles, the component of generation that comes from renewable fuel sources qualifies as renewable generation. For example, use of a B20 blend would equate to 20% of the power generated as renewable energy. In the context of on-site generation one REC is generally generated for each 1MWh electrical.
  • Be cost effective. East coast prices for biodiesel are, on the whole, similar to conventional diesel prices, although it is Energetics’ experience that often biodiesel can be cheaper. Certainly, from the most conservative viewpoint, there is no cost disadvantage. Under the diesel rebate, it would appear that biodiesel blends of up to 20% may be assessed under the same principles as applied to regular diesel. In Energetics’ opinion, there may be no disadvantage in the excise rebate treatment.
  • Make a positive environmental contribution where the bio-oil is derived from appropriate, sustainable and verifiable sources.

Embedded wind power

Power generation from wind turbines does not need to involve large wind farms that export electricity to the grid. Wind turbines can be located on site. From a financial perspective, generating power on site can be far cheaper than buying power from the grid. This option is made all the more attractive given recent large electricity price increases and forecasts of further energy price volatility.

For companies generating power from diesel, the cost reduction is even larger, as wind power costs are usually well below the cost of electricity from diesel.

Wind power also creates RECs, of value in today’s market, further boosting the financial benefits of local wind power. Sites in a reasonably windy location are ideally placed to investigate this opportunity as a means of reducing energy costs and creating clean, green power. 

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