The mining industry has always struggled with its image as being a dirty industry, especially considering that it is responsible for between 4% and 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to Renewable Now.
In advancing commitments to reducing carbon emissions by 2050, a growing number of renewable energy-focused small power plants are entering into the national grid system.
However, technology will need to improve to ensure a consistent, secure power supply, and multiple mining companies are therefore busy installing renewable and hybrid energy platforms.
In this way, the minerals extraction sector is fully engaged in assuring shareholders of their environmentally responsible approaches in efforts to become a more sustainable industry.
By necessity, miners have always needed consistent and reliable sources of power to meet their day-to-day processing requirements. This is a driving factor behind why miners have begun to install hybrid power solutions to provide their 24/7 energy demands.
In addition to the cleaner and cost-saving use of fossil fuel, hybrid energy systems bring together a blend of various generation, storage, and consumption technologies into a single system, improving the overall redundancy and availability.
This definition has now expanded to include systems that are wholly based on renewable energy, or combine different energy storage systems.
In mining, reducing power costs is a large impact on the profitability and sustainability and where renewable energy was once viewed questionably, the economic and environmental benefits of renewable hybrid power stations is now beyond question.
Hybrid, being cost effective and reliable, is now seen as the most attractive solution for mines.
USP&E CEO Will Gruver says: “The mines we design, build and operate require a constant source of electricity for continuous operations -24/7, 365. A minor power failure is not acceptable as this will often set the mine operations back by days. USP&E reduces these through redundancy, hybrid technologies, energy storage and SMARTPOWER. SMARTPOWER is our machine learning, AI-based, predictive analytics-driven proprietary power station management tool in use by clients worldwide.”
The stability of power availability is crucial for mining operations, and it is therefore mission critical that no losses occur due to power failure.
While renewable energy has not been a common option for mines in the past, the hybrid renewable power station design is taking off across the world in the industrial sector.
The new push for renewable hybrid energy is driven by a combination of more affordable solar and energy storage pricing combined with a booming commodities sector, as well as more flexible operations, optimizing fossil fuel consumption, and maximizing return to shareholders.
Over the years, most operation usage statistics have been manually collected and controlled. This manual gathering of information has made it hard to compare the true output of electrical energy of a full thermal plant with a hybrid power plant.
Gruver continues: “Most mines are functioning without knowing how much and how well their assets are being operated, they are walking blindly without knowing the true capex and opex of operation. SmartPower is a KPI software that uses machine-learning and statistical algorithms to allow clients to view their assets and how their assets are operating from any location in the world. The uniqueness of the program lies in its ability to capture the entire operations process including manpower, work orders, spare parts inventory and service schedules, and condense them into a single operational dashboard for KPI tracking and variance management. Hybrid solutions combined with SmartPower will not only allow overview of capital expenditures but will always show mines that being more renewable in energy usage is possible.”
Robust and reliable integration of renewable and thermal power station technologies in the industrial sectors of the emerging world is critical to accomplish the goals set out by the Paris 2015 Agreement. This is where USP&E is beginning to see significant returns from hybrid technology – which now enables seamless integration of various power sources.