Conco Energy Solutions (Conco Es), a subsidiary of power infrastructure solutions firm Conco, has introduced solar photovoltaic (PV) solutions to the market that will assist mining companies to lower their operational expenditure.
“Our offerings are fully wrapped engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for PV solutions, which includes both commercial and utility grid-tied PV installations, as well as hybrid and minigrid solutions,” says business development manager Frank Spencer.
“The solutions combine options around diesel, solar, battery and payment systems, and may be ground-mounted (tracker or fixed-tilt) or installed on rooftops. The two main applications for this technology in mining, are on grid, where solar PV can result in operational expenditure reduction in terms of electricity purchases, and more interestingly, off grid, where the solar plant can be hybridised with existing diesel or heavy fuel oil plants, resulting in fuel savings and a significant reduction in operational expenditure.”
The constantly increasing need to provide electricity in harsh and remote environments motivated Conco Es to deliver these solutions throughout South Africa and most of sub-Saharan Africa, with plans to deliver throughout the African continent. Such projects have already been piloted in Australia and Africa, and the interest among the mining sector is growing quickly.
Solar PV solutions have already become a popular option for many utilities throughout the African continent, owing to an abundance of solar irradiation, the ever-increasing cost of grid electricity and the ongoing reduction in solar PV plant costs. Solar PV plants are now one of the lowest cost producers of energy, with a fixed long-term energy generation cost and a proven bankable record. In addition, many private commercial customers are now buying solar PV plants to save on electricity costs and reduce their dependency on grid electricity. This is especially true in South Africa, where the rooftop solar PV market is growing exponentially.
The renewable-energy market is not a new venture for Conco Es. Within the last three years, the company has completed several solar and wind farm projects. Having been a supplier of facility supervisory control and data acquisition (Scada) solutions, power plant controllers, as well as completely integrated smart grid-enabled automation and control solutions for renewable-energy production projects, Conco Es has become a formidable player in the traditional and renewable-energy sectors, notes the company.
Conco Es has also invested in the development of containerised substation solutions, which address the requirement of mobile electricity generation in the harshest environments in Africa. Containerised substations can be built and transported anywhere, negating the need to build traditional, time-consuming brick-and-mortar substations. Being already established in providing secondary plant solutions, Conco Es is able to kit these containerised substations with protection and automation equipment to each customer’s specifications, using high-voltage and medium-voltage equipment. It is even possible to house a complete Scada system, which can be monitored on or off site.
Conco Es notes that the respect that it is awarded in the industry is evidence of the technical accuracy that goes into the design and production of each custom and standard project. Each project is handled by specialist teams consisting of qualified and experienced engineers, with each stage of production taking place a few metres from the project engineer’s office.