Mining is a huge industry, so the fact that renewable energy is now the most competitive option at mining sites is pretty big news. Electricity from solar and wind power can cost up to 70% less than when it is generated by diesel power at mining sites. This is especially true for sites that are located remotely. Diesel can be expensive and getting it to difficult locations also consumes fuel.
An online platform called Renewables and Mining has a database of renewable energy systems that can support mines. Photovoltaics, concentrated photovoltaics, concentrated solar power, solar thermal, and wind power are included in the information collection. The point of aggregating this type of content in one place is that it can help mining companies find examples of effective renewable energy solutions that can save them money.
Renewable energy is still a sticking point for some people; they might consider it something “nice” for green folks, but not having any place in a tough industry like mining. But the fact is: it’s competitive.
“The objective of THEnergy is to accelerate the application of renewable energy in the mining sector by providing missing information,” said Dr. Thomas Hillig, founder of THEnergy.
An Alabama steel plant now generates most of its electricity from solar power. If a steel plant can do this, it seems just about any type of business can too. In fact, one of the world’s largest copper mining companies is going to be using about 70 MW of solar power fairly soon.
Is it being done for the sake of trying to be a green company? Probably not, considering the mining industry’s environmental record. In some cases, utilizing solar power simply is a good choice financially.
It was estimated that installing and using a solar power plant at an Australian mining site could offset about 600,000 gallons in diesel fuel use. Australian Renewable Energy Agency chairman Greg Bourne said,“If you can prove the technology and the control systems for forecasting and intermittency, you have a lot more confidence in trying it nearer to a large grid and beginning to sweep away the barriers of ‘oh, we can’t do this, everything will fail.’ ”
Will the use of renewable energy by mining companies become more common any time soon? It seems like it.
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