#Energy markets are undergoing massive transformation as governments around the world phase out fossil fuels in order to integrate renewables. #This trend is clearly visible in the mining industry, as evidenced by recent projects in #South #America and #Australia. #According to #Bloomberg #New #Energy #Finance, in 2018, mines purchased 1 GW of renewable power generation assets; this amount has triple to reach around 3.5 GW in 2019, 90% of which are hybrid solutions.
The demand for electricity for the mining industry is expected to increase considerably in the coming years: indeed, the increasing depths of operating mines, the harder rock and the increased needs for water desalination lead to an intensity higher energy efficiency for industry. #While the electrification of operations and vehicles reduces certain emissions and generates savings, the objectives of stakeholders to reduce emissions under the EESG (#Environment, #Economy, #Social and #Governance) plans increase the share of renewable energies in the energy mix, which consequently requires the integration of so-called flexible production solutions to balance the high intermittence of renewable energies.
#In #Africa, the mining sector faces many challenges, access to the electricity grid and grid reliability being the most important. #Since the majority of the electricity supply comes from conventional power plants (coal, fuel oil or gas), operators are faced on the one hand with very volatile operating expenses due to the heavy dependence on fuel costs, and also to an inefficient and unreliable power supply leading to production disruptions and loss of income. #Inadequate infrastructure and unavailability of water compound the challenges for mines, especially in remote and off-grid locations.
The combination of these trends and the peculiarities of #African markets paves the way for the integration of renewable energies for the mining sector. A recent #McKinsey study showed that switching to renewable sources of electricity is increasingly realistic, even in off-grid environments, as the cost of storing electricity is expected to drop by 50% from 2017 to 2030. #This is good news for #Africa where the cost of solar power generation could be among the lowest in the world.
#It also represents a huge opportunity for operators in #Africa, where Wärtsilä has developed a range of competitive strategies to deliver efficient and reliable power supply solutions to support the mining sector on the path to a renewable energy future. .
#In #Tanzania, the #Geita gold mine was experiencing reliability issues and recurring power cuts as its aging plant neared end of life. #It needed a reliable power generation solution to support its growing operations. Wärtsilä thus delivered a flexible 40 MW power plant accompanied by a 10-year operation and maintenance (O&M) contract. The power plant guarantees uninterrupted off-grid power supply, eliminating revenue loss due to power shortages, while O&M services are tailored to mine performance requirements. #Maintenance schedules are optimized to minimize costs and production downtime and improve energy efficiency. #As a result, fuel savings of approximately 4%, representing $ 2 million, were achieved in the first year of operation. The flexibility of the installation will also facilitate the transition to renewable energies throughout the life of the project.
#In #Burkina #Faso, Wärtsilä delivered a 15 MWp solar photovoltaic (PV) plant to the independent power producer (IPP) #Essakane #Solar SAS, which supplies the #Essakane gold mine. The solar PV plant was built alongside a 55 MW Wärtsilä heavy fuel oil thermal power plant, forming what in 2018 was the world’s largest isolated grid hybrid power plant. . The ability to control and optimize the use of solar PV energy and motors in real time enables the gold mine to ensure a stable supply of electricity throughout days and years, thus enabling reduce its fuel consumption by around 6 million liters per year and its annual CO2 emissions by 18,500 tonnes.
#Energy storage technologies are a game changer
The integration of energy storage technologies will be a real turning point, allowing the industry to take full advantage of cheap and abundant solar energy. These technologies have the unique ability to provide a “buffer zone” between supply and demand by delivering or storing energy whenever needed. They will become the cornerstone of a stable infrastructure to improve network reliability and security. #Hybrid solutions, combining flexible thermal generation with storage and solar power operations, are now a realistic and cost-effective solution, as the discounted cost of electricity (LCOE) is lower than ever and storage costs are lower. called to drop.
#In #Mali, at the #Fekola mine, located in a remote area without connection to a grid of sufficient size, Wärtsilä provides a hybrid solution to provide and maintain the stability of the microgrid. The project combines a 30 MW solar photovoltaic power plant, a 17.3 MW / 15.4 MW energy storage facility and GEMS, Wärtsilä’s advanced energy management system. #Together with the existing 64 MW power plant, the hybrid solution enables the mine to improve energy reliability, reduce heavy fuel consumption, reduce operating costs as well as reduce CO2 emissions. GEMS is a revolutionary tool, using smart algorithms to allocate energy storage and multiple production assets (thermal and renewable) with the right level of reserve to maintain high reliability of the mine grid. #Generators are deactivated when solar production increases and are restarted based on forecast data, including load demand and weather. The sophistication of GEMS enables optimization of energy production to guarantee the lowest LCOE.
#In addition to ensuring the stability of the microgrid, the project is expected to generate long-term annual savings of 13 million liters of heavy fuel oil and reduce the mine’s carbon footprint by approximately 40,000 tonnes per year. #This hybrid storage project is the first of its kind in #Mali and in the mining sector, thus justifying the growing interest in clean energy and its potential for economic optimization and sustainability for mines in #Africa and elsewhere.
#Increasing energy reliability and reducing operating costs are key operational goals for the mining industry. The optimal technological solution to solve the energy challenges of mines in #Africa must enable rapid start-up of production units with high off-grid availability, high energy efficiency, rapid load adjustment and high efficiency at part load to enable a high penetration of renewable energies. The answer lies in flexibility and the intelligent use of renewables to ensure efficient and reliable energy delivery to remote off-grid locations. #Advanced energy management systems are the key technological element required to support the enormous energy flows from intermittent sources.
#With its broad portfolio of energy storage and flexible solutions for energy-intensive operations, in #Africa and the rest of the world, Wärtsilä is the partner of choice to help the mining sector achieve its goals of sustainability and cost reduction.
#Tribune de #Tarik #Sfendla, #Market #Development #Manager, #Africa chez Wärtsilä #Energy
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