Renewable energy companies Suntrace and BayWa, together with gold miner B2Gold, have completed commissioning of the world’s largest off-grid solar-battery hybrid system for the mining industry, at the Fekola gold mine, in Mali.
The solar-battery hybrid plant was integrated and commissioned successfully with the existing power plant operation, and the solar plant is on course to be 100% complete by the end of June.
Hybrid projects such as this, which combine solar energy with conventional energy generation and battery storage, are considered an effective way to provide reliable power supply day and night in off-grid areas.
Ideally suited to its needs, B2Gold approved the hybrid project for implementation in July 2019, following completion of preliminary studies by Suntrace and BayWa.
The Fekola gold mine operates 24 hours a day. During the daytime, the new 30 MW solar plant allows three out of six heavy fuel oil generators to be shut down; the energy production of the residual three generators could also be significantly reduced.
The 15.4 MWh battery storage compensates energy generation fluctuations and ensures a reliable operation, which allows up to 75% of the electricity demand of the gold mine to be supplied from renewable energy during the daytime.
The integration of the solar power plant with the battery system will ensure safe and reliable power, saving 13.1-million litres of heavy fuel oil a year, the companies state.
The close collaboration of all three parties was vital to implementing this complex project, helping to realise the huge potential of solar battery hybrid systems, they add.
The photovoltaic battery system will help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 39 000 t/y.