All Energy 2015: Evolving diesel gensets clear path for PV mining applications

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Solar applications in the mining industry is growing in maturity and attracting the attention of major mine operators, particularly for remote applications reliant on diesel-fired generation. A study commissioned by Danish diesel hybrid technology provider Danvest has demonstrated how modified low load gensets could help facilitate greater solar penetration in the sector.

The study “Low-load Gensets for Solar-diesel Hybrid Plants in the Mining Industry” was published today and it sets out how such gensets could almost double solar penetration in solar diesel hybrid power generation systems.

Low load diesel gensets employs a fast spinning reserve to buffer solar generation in the event of shading due to cloud cover. The systems have the potential to provide reliable support for solar arrays on mine sites, while consuming very little diesel during sunny periods, with the ability to respond quickly when required.

“Danvest low-load generators have been used in combination with wind turbines for years,” said Thomas Qvist Vestesen, CEO of Danvest Energy. “As the solar–diesel market receives more attention than the wind–diesel market at this moment, we have adapted our field-tested solution for this very dynamic market segment.”

The low load diesel gensets can also respond quickly to unexpected or short term electricity demand spikes at mine sites. Given recent falls in commodity prices and weak short term outlooks, the report argues that the application of solar hybrid solutions along with low load gensets could offer major savings for remote mine sites.

In Australia solar arrays at remote mine sites are becoming more common, with the recent BHP Weipa project in remote Queensland being inaugurated only last week.

“Reducing the costs of operations such as energy expenditures has become an important competitive factor,” said Thomas Hillig of THEnergy, the report author. “One of the game changers could be low-load diesel hybrid power plants giving maximal room to locally produced inexpensive solar and/or wind energy. Even at the current low oil prices, optimized hybrid technologies normally beat the current conventional diesel based electricity prices.”

The report calculates that the additional investment of PV hybrid power supply system would have a payoff system in the range of four to seven years. It is available for download here.