With PVs falling costs, supplying the mining sector with electricity from solar arrays in remote locations is becoming an increasingly attractive proposition for mine operators. South Africa is moving towards the installation of PV at three mine sites, under the governments Small Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program (Small REIPPP).
Cronimet is looking likely to pick up projects under the scheme, announcing yesterday that is has been awarded preferred bidder status for 3 x 5 MW solar plants and solar diesel hybrids for mining and industrial sites in South Africa.
Cronimet joint managing director Rollie Armstrong said that the company is looking to develop a pipeline of over 500 MW of renewable energy projects in South Africa.
The company will supply construction finance for the projects, keeping the projects on its balance sheet until commercial operation, after which they will be refinanced used commercial loans.
A local EPC will be contracted for the installation and the projects will be developed in line with South Africas Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment and local content requirements.
Along with South Africa, Chile and Australia are emerging as leading geographic markets for the application of PV technology to supply mining operations. While much of the solar development in Chile to supply mining has been grid tied, in Australia remote sites are embracing solar+storage in a number of large scale demonstration projects.