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Aggreko’s Head of Renewables on Why Mines are Looking at Alternative Energy

Aggreko’s Head of Renewables on Why Mines are Looking at Alternative Energy
April 18
21:08 2017

Climbing power costs and reliability of supply are the two biggest energy challenges pushing mines to consider renewables, Karim Wazni, Director of Business Development Renewables at Aggreko, tells Energy and Mines.

“More on and off-grid mines are looking at different alternative power options for a cheaper and a more reliable supply to match their energy needs,” Wazni says. In some regions, renewables are already the most affordable power source due to recent price drops for solar and wind, he adds. “And if renewables are integrated as part of a hybrid system at a mine site, they can drastically drive down energy costs and diesel consumption,” Wazni notes.

On top of that, renewables also offer long-term price stability. “Once installed, solar and wind don’t cost much to operate and are very predictable, while diesel is known for its extreme volatility,” he says.

Mines are also seeing the benefits of renewables when it comes to improving corporate social responsibility. “Powering mines with diesel leaves a high carbon footprint, so renewables look more attractive,” Wazni reports.

It is much easier to operate a mine near a community if alternative power is integrated because mines can share that power with the locals or even leave the renewable power plant at the site after closure. This greatly improves the relationship between the mining industry and local communities.

“Mines might only be operational for 10-15 years, but renewable power can remain and serve communities for much longer. This shifts the conversation from mines providing a temporary boost in employment to actually leaving a lasting legacy for a community,” says Wazni.

Aggreko’s hybrid system

To help mines with their energy needs, Aggreko developed its own hybrid solution, which combines solar with diesel gensets. “We ensure that hybrid plants use diesel and solar power in the most optimal way to provide a reliable and cheap energy under a single contract,” says Wazni.

To address financing challenges, Aggreko is offering flexible contracts. “We are only asking mines for a minimal contract commitment of at least five years,” says Wazni. Aggreko already offers a fleet of containerized diesel, gas and HFO generators for rent, which has facilitated the development of the hybrid system.

Wazni notes that some mining executives are still unsure about renewables, mainly because of the intermittency issues associated with the technology. For off-grid mines, for example, it is more critical to establish a reliable power supply than to save money on energy costs. “It is our role to make sure that mines understand that hybrid plants are as reliable as any other type of conventional power plants,” he reports. “It is a priority for us to figure out how much solar each mine can integrate during the day and then solve any intermittency issues via gensets.”

In the near future, Aggreko is focusing on Africa, Australia and South America, stressing that those are the three biggest markets when it comes to off-grid mines and abundance of solar.



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Andrew Slavin

Andrew Slavin

I am one of the directors of Energy and Mines and am also the curator of this site. I have been involved with B2B communications for the last 18 years including publications, conferences, think tanks and reports.

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