Mining Industry can cut energy cost by turning to solar power

A review by Energy and Mines claims that using solar power can offset the energy costs of mining.

“Some mines in Australia operate in incredibly remote locations, and the cost of electricity is upwards of $300/MWh,” Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) CEO Ivor Frischknecht said.

Most noteworthy is that energy costs can be up to 15 percent of a mine’s input costs.

Launched in 2013, ARENA started the Regional Australia’s Renewables Program, it provides funding to projects that use renewable energy solutions in remote locations.

“Supply chain issues, including having road access cut off for weeks at a time, are not uncommon. These mines are also located in areas with the best solar resources in Australia, and among the best in the world,” Mr. Frischknecht said.

“Renewables can deliver cheaper and more predictably priced power, and reduce fuel supply risk to these sites.”

The mining sector will take the biggest hit as it extracts deeper, lower-quality ore that needs more processing. As a result, the industry is turning to low-carbon renewable energy to meet this demand.

Off grid solar power has the advantage of generating close to the load and has a predictable generating curve, the review states. Paired with modular energy storage units available in the market, the combination has been described as a ‘silver bullet’ to cut back on energy costs.

The industry’s reliance on expensive diesel generators and electricity from distant generation sites will force it into taking up solar energy as an alternative.

In the meantime, the Renewable Energy Target (RET) aims to generate 23.5 percent of the nation’s power from renewables by 2020.

South Australia also plans to boost renewables from 43 percent of total generation to 50 percent by 2025.

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