WorldWide Drilling Resource

8 DECEMBER 2021 WorldWide Drilling Resource ® RENEW - SUBSCRIBE NOW! Hybrid Energy System for Mining Compiled the Editorial Staff of WorldWide Drilling Resource ®® B2Gold, a Canadian gold-mining company, operates a large mine in southwest Mali, Africa. The Fekola mine ranks as one of the largest gold mines in Africa, pro- ducing around 600,000 ounces of gold last year, and exploration studies revealed the deposits to be almost double the initial estimates. Until recently, it was powered primarily by three Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) generators, but the delivery of a cutting-edge energy storage platform and an advanced software system is optimizing energy management. A recent site expansion was completed, and while the existing power units pro- vided enough power to support the increase in production, the company sought to reduce its energy costs, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and increase power reliabil- ity. Wärtsilä Corporation, headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, partnered with B2Gold to deliver the solution. They decided to add a 35-megawatt solar-photovoltaic (PV) plant and 17 megawatts / 15 megawatt-hours of energy storage to the existing 64- megawatt thermal engine plant. Costing approx - imately $38 million, this is one of the larges t off-grid hybrid solar / HFO plants in the world . The new installation has over 92,000 sola r panels and more than 1100 trackers, allowin g some of the HFO generators to be shut dow n during daylight hours. This new energy mix i s anticipated to save over 3 million gallons o f fuel, reduce carbon emissions by 39,000 ton s per year, and generate a payback in just ove r four years. Hybrid energy systems combining sola r and storage with diesel or HFO-fueled genset s are ideal to provide a stable energy supply fo r remote mining operations and counteract th e high costs of fuel supply by using locally-avail - able renewable resources. To handle the vari - ability of solar irradiance levels and generate d solar energy, a cutting-edge solar forecastin g system, provided by France-based Reuniwatt , will also be implemented at the site. Such a tool is essential to optimize the use of gener - ated solar power, charge the batteries whe n possible, and use the available gensets onl y when necessary. Using data from a locally - installed high-class sky camera and advance d satellite-to-irradiance technology, the syste m will continuously provide forecasts of the P V plant’s power output. Wärtsilä’s GEMS, a n advanced energy management softwar e platform, will integrate, control, and optimize al l power sources to ensure they work togethe r in harmony. The project’s goal is to maintain microgri d stability, curtail ramp events, eliminate engin e and solar power fluctuations, and the provid e spinning reserves, which is online but unloade d generation capacity able to respond within te n minutes to compensate for generation o r transmission outages. Risto Paldanius, busi - ness development director, energy storag e and optimization at Wärtsilä said, “Hybrid solu - tions with renewable energy-sourced powe r operations are a realistic and effective mean s for increasing energy reliability and lowerin g operating costs for the mining sector. Thes e remote locations are ideally suited for hybri d systems. Our extensive experience with micro - grids in various climatic and geographical con - ditions will help the Fekola mine, and others o f its kind, to achieve their sustainability and cost - saving goals.” Fekola mine, Mali, Africa. Photo courtesy of Wärtsilä Corporation. MIN