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Solar portion of Molo mine’s hybrid power plant completed

7th July 2023

By: Tasneem Bulbulia

Senior Contributing Editor Online

     

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Construction of the solar farm portion of the solar hybrid power plant at NextSource Materials' Molo graphite mine, in Madagascar, has been completed.

The solar hybrid plant is owned and operated by CrossBoundary Energy (CBE) under a 20-year power purchase agreement and consists of the 2.6 MW solar farm, a 3.1 MW thermal facility (diesel generators installed prior to mine commissioning), and a 1 MWh battery energy storage system (BESS), which is expected to arrive in the next few weeks.

The solar farm was built by CBE using local labour and comprises 4 902 photovoltaic panels, covering 12 663 m2, installed on ballasted mounting systems.

The 2.6 MW solar farm is expected to produce about 4 GWh of clean energy yearly, reducing the mine’s all-in sustaining costs, and is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 2 275 t/y.

Final electrical interconnections between the solar farm and the mine are now under way and are expected to be completed within the coming weeks.

The solar hybrid plant is designed to generate 33% of the Molo mine’s steady-state power requirements from renewable energy.

The solar facility together with load balancing provided by the BESS will be capable of supplying up to 100% of the plant’s power requirements during peak daylight hours, with the thermal facility supplying all off-peak power requirements, thereby ensuring an uninterrupted power supply to the mine.

NextSource and CBE say they are committed to optimising the solar component and increasing the amount of renewable energy available to the mine, which would include the expansion of the solar farm and the potential addition of wind turbines.

In support of this, CBE has installed a wind measuring light detection and ranging device to evaluate the wind resource at the site and is studying the feasibility of adding wind generation in the short term.

As part of any potential future expansion of the Molo mine, the company has set a goal of increasing the percentage generated by renewable power to at least 50%.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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