Energy and Mines


How the Mining Industry Can Win with Renewables

How the Mining Industry Can Win with Renewables
July 31
12:25 2017

Photo By Jllm06 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

The mining industry worldwide could slash carbon emissions by a gigaton by greening operations, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute. While mining is a highly energy-intensive activity, the sector’s investment in clean energy currently represents a mere 2.5 percent of the world’s renewable generation. Renewables hold the potential to supply mines with energy at a cost that’s comparable to or less than traditional diesel generators and grid power, however. The new analysis outlines practical steps the industry can take toward less carbon-intensive and more profitable mining operations. Those steps include:

  • Recognizing and accounting for carbon intensity as an externality.
    Moving materials with electrified conveyor belts, rather than diesel-based equipment.
  • Deploying on-site solar generation at both off-grid and grid-tied mines, with the potential for oversized systems that generate revenue by selling excess energy to the grid. A levelized cost of energy (LCOE) analysis conducted by Lazard and cited in the report demonstrates the economic advantages of solar power over other forms of generation.
  • Avoiding fossil fuel price volatility by adopting solar generation with storage.
  • Accounting for less tangible benefits, such as creating local jobs, improving community relations, mitigating climate risks, and generating revenue by repurposing old mines.

The analysis is part of the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Sunshine for Mines Program, which aims to facilitate the installation of 8 GW of renewable capacity at mines by 2025.

Read more at the Rocky Mountain Institute’s website.


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Kate Dougherty

Kate Dougherty