Several mining companies have adopted wind and solar systems to reduce their energy costs at remote off-grid mines in Africa.
The initial focus of mining companies was on the integration capabilities as miners felt that adding intermittent renewables such as solar and wind could affect the reliability of power supply — leading to production losses.
Renewables with diesel, HFO, or gas provide reliable power supply to remote mines in Africa. Mines achieved cost benefit from the integration of renewables.
Mining companies do not have to invest their own money; independent power providers (IPPs) invest in the renewable energy infrastructure and sell electricity to mines through power purchase agreements (PPAs), said Thomas Hillig, managing director of THEnergy, in a research report.
Cost optimization does not necessarily mean minimizing Capex but rather focusing on the total lifetime of the project and including O&M. The mining industry should consider the interplay of the different energy sources.
Alexis Goybet, head of Hybrid Solutions at Voltalia, said: “Our experience adds up to our economies of scale in procurement and translates into significant overall cost-reductions in the range of 20-30 percent in comparison to new market entrants.”
These overall cost reductions will make solar and wind energy extremely attractive for many mines. The number of remote mines that add renewables to diesel, HFO or gas is expected to grow quickly all over Africa. The report did not reveal the actual monetary benefits from the adoption of green energy.