LESSONS LEARNED IN AFRICA
Opportunities increasing for large-scale renewables at mines
Africa is opening up to the development of large-scale renewable energy projects at mines. This encouraging news comes from an interview with David Manning, Director, Global Hybrid at juwi Renewable Energy, in the latest edition of Energy and Mines.
The opportunities for increasing the penetration of renewable energy sources at African mines are substantial. According to Manning, the African mining industry currently has an estimated market cap of US $752bn, and “with hybrid and renewables becoming a standard energy solution in the mining sector … PV, wind and storage are now a viable option for almost every mine site.”
Pressure from boardrooms
In addition to the availability of mature, well-established technologies, pressure to transition to renewables is increasing from corporate boards and investors. Says Manning, “In the last 12 months there has also been a shift in the carbon reduction targets coming from boardrooms, where a number of top tier miners … have implemented ambitious plans for net-zero emissions by 2050. This has translated to a focus (on) the deployment of renewable energy at their sites with the target of significantly reducing reliance on fossil fuels.”
ESG key for investors
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance is increasingly important to investors as well. Per, Manning, “Large-scale mining companies are now under pressure to set, track and report against environmental, social and governance targets. Over the last few years, stakeholders have ramped up their expectation, and ESG is now a fundamental part of energy supply decisions.” He cites the example of BlackRock, the world’s largest fund manager, which said in January 2020 that it would divest from any company earning more than 25% of revenue from thermal coal. In addition, it warned that it would continue to evaluate sectors with high ESG risk and vote against management and directors who don’t meet its standards.
Notwithstanding the obvious opportunities, Africa also presents some unique obstacles to the rapid deployment of new power technologies. In South Africa, according to Manning, regulations from NERSA (South Africa’s national energy regulator), “whilst continuing to improve, are still a hurdle … The biggest issue facing mine sites and IPPs is the time and difficulty of obtaining a generation licence.
Manning sees good news in NERSA’s recent approval for Gold Fields to construct a 40 MW solar power plant at its South Deep gold mine in South Africa. He says, “This is a big step forward, and hopefully the first of many. Renewable energy options, including storage, will provide mine sites with a cheap and reliable energy source, that will ultimately lower cash operating costs, and provide better value to their shareholders.”
Experience is instructive
Manning cites juwi’s experience having built eight utility-scale solar plants totaling 400 MW under the South African Government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme — as having taught his company valuable lessons. “The REIPPP experience has given juwi significant knowledge and skills to develop and deliver projects in challenging environments. Working with remote communities, connecting into the Eskom grid, and working with large-scale investors has not only been rewarding, but will allow us to undertake future projects with confidence and efficiency.”
Read the complete interview here.
CHILEAN MINE TO USE 100% RENEWABLE ENERGY
Per Mining.com and other sources, Chilean miner Cemin Holding Minero has announced a deal with the local subsidiary of France’s Engie for the supply of 100% certified renewable energy to its Pullalli gold-silver operation, in the central region of Valparaíso.
Cemin claims this makes it the first company of its size in the South American country to move towards the use of clean energy.
Under the announced arrangement, Engie will provide 1.48 GWh of certified green electricity per year to Pullalli to power its underground gold mine and processing plant. According to the company, this will allow Pullalli to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by roughly 1,090 tonnes per year.
Juan Andrés Morel, Cemin’s executive president, said in a media statement that his company had also hired Engie to replace the diesel used at its Amalia plant with natural gas, which allowed for a 38% drop in the plant’s carbon footprint, while also reducing operation costs.
Read more here.
US GEARS UP TO SUPPLY MINERALS TO MEET BATTERY DEMAND
“The US could see new mines and raw material production ‘scale up’ as demand for battery energy storage systems and grid resilience increases over the next decade.” So says Margaret O'Riley, battery, automotive and electrification business recruitment lead for power holding company Duke Energy Corporation, as quoted recently in Energy Storage News.
Speaking at a recent conference, O’Riley said that “many of the major minerals that are used to manufacture lithium-ion batteries are not in this country.”
To spur progress, there is now a bipartisan effort within the federal government to introduce investment tax credit (ITC) incentives to accelerate the deployment of energy storage in the US. But O’Riley suggests this is insufficient. Raw material mining and the supply chain as a whole “also needs to be here to make those batteries,” adding that she believes there will be, “a lot of efforts even at the federal level to help provide funding to promote (a domestic) supply chain.”
Read the full article here.