A remote Indigenous-owned mine training centre in North East Arnhem Land, operated by the Gumatj Corporation, will feature the first commercial application of an innovative, off-grid hybrid energy solution developed by GE.
The GE designed renewable hybrid system is being showcased at this weekend’s Garma Festival, where it is being used to power the newly opened Gulkula Regional Training Centre. The solution uses a mix of solar and battery storage coupled with small-scale diesel power generation to produce electricity, and is ideally suited for remote commercial and industrial operations. It is digitally-connected with GE’s Predix*-based Asset Performance Management software application which will allow for remote monitoring and diagnostics to ensure efficiency and reliability.
The Gulkula Regional Training Centre, which was established to drive higher levels of employment for Yolngu peoples, will take its first students in August. They will experience onthe-job training at the Gulkula mining operation.
With a core focus on mining, construction and environmental studies, the centre’s ultimate goal is for students to eventually manage and operate a 955-hectare lease extracting bauxite, which sits within Yolngu land.
Gumatj Corporation Deputy Chairman Djawa Yunupingu said that GE’s innovative energy solution was part of making the training a reality.
“This mine training centre and mine operation is about helping Yolngu people develop specialised skills in mining to open up employment opportunities and better utilise the assets of our land. Through training and education, our vision is to create a sustainable future for the Yolngu people,” Djawa Yunipingu said.
“We’re proud to officially open the training centre and mining operation at Garma this weekend, especially with GE’s hybrid energy solution which brings renewable solar power to our operation.”
North Arnhem Land is one of the remotest areas of Australia, making it challenging to access reliable and affordable electricity. GE’s hybrid energy solution will provide a 30 kilowatt (kW) mini-grid using a combination of renewable and diesel power generation technologies to ensure it can deliver a reliable supply of electricity with up to 40 percent lower operating costs than diesel-only generators. The unit, which is enclosed in a 20-foot shipping container, will provide the Training Centre with 24/7 power for basic needs including air conditioning and lighting.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner welcomed the launch of GE’s hybrid energy solution in the NT, which came about following a U.S. Embassy led Business delegation to Darwin in November last year.
“Implementation of this new innovative technology at Gulkula Regional Training Centre is exciting news and the first commercial application globally of GE’s new containerised hybrid energy solution,” Mr Gunner said.
“It is great to see global innovators teaming up with local Aboriginal people to deliver cutting edge technology.”
Geoff Culbert, President & CEO, GE Australia, New Zealand & Papua New Guinea, said: “You don’t often see a global product launch in a remote community, and this speaks volumes of the innovative culture of the Yolngu people.
“We are proud to be partnering with the Gumatj Corporation on this project, which will deliver a stable and reliable energy supply to support the education and training of the next generation of Yolngu leaders.”
The hybrid unit will be monitored remotely using machine data collected and analysed from GE’s Predix-based software applications. Performance data including solar generation, battery state of charge and when the diesel generation switches on and off will be sent to the cloud and monitored in real time using a web portal and data visualisation. The software will monitor energy production and automatically switch between technologies to achieve optimum efficiency.
The first installation of the hybrid solution will be a single module, with the option to add further units and greater generation capacity if energy needs increase.