November 24, 2020 Read More →

Major Australian industrial firm Sun Metals commits to 100% renewable energy

Renew Economy:

The Queensland zinc refiner Sun Metals has announced it will go 100 per cent renewables, and will add further capacity to pursue “green hydrogen” opportunities in transport and export in what is being regarded as one of the most significant developments in Australia’s energy transition.

The decision by the South Korean owned Sun Metals refinery – the second biggest single energy user in Queensland, and one of the biggest in Australia – to reach 100 per cent renewables by 2040 has been described as a “tipping point” by Jon Dee, the Australian head of the RE100 initiative.

“This commitment by Sun Metals to go 100% renewable by 2040 is a real game changer,” Dee said in a statement. “If Sun Metals can go fully renewable by 2040, there’s no reason why every other Australian refinery and smelter can’t do the same.”

It is the second major Australian corporate entity to commit to the RE100 campaign in the past week, with retailer Woolworths announcing a 2025 target, and it takes means consumers of five terawatt hours a year of electricity have committed to source all of their needs from renewables, or about 2.5 per cent of the demand on the main grid. Sun Metals consumes around 1.1TWh a year for its refining processes.

Sun Metals, wholly owned by Korean Zinc Corp, is already sourcing around 22 per cent of its electricity needs from solar, courtesy of the ground-breaking 125 Sun Metals solar farm it installed several years ago. That was the first solar farm to be co-located next to a major energy user in Australia, even though it has suffered issues from unspecified technical problems and grid constraints. However, its output is expected to increase as those issues are addressed.

It now aims to reach 80 per cent renewables by 2030, through the addition of wind energy – although it is not clear whether this will be through the purchase of wind farms themselves, or a contract for their output. It will then seek other technologies such as batteries, biogas and hydrogen to fill the remaining gap, and also plans to invest in green (renewable) hydrogen to replace diesel on the site and as an export fuel in the future. It recently secured a $5 million grant from the Queensland government to develop one of north Queensland’s first renewable hydrogen production facilities.

[Giles Parkinson]

More: “Tipping point”: Queensland zinc refinery commits to 100 pct renewables

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