Simple Measures Save a Great Deal of EnergyBy Jan Hogewoning | Mon, 03/09/2020 - 17:00
Q: How important is decarbonization, or the reduction of carbon consumption, in the sector?
A: Decarbonization is becoming an increasingly important topic for mining companies in Latin America. There is a slight difference between national and international mining companies. National mining companies are focused on reducing their operational costs. International companies have a stronger will to fulfill decarbonization to lower emissions and reduce impact on the environment. Interestingly, the countries with the biggest mining sector have a great deal of potential for renewable energy. Mexico has that potential, but there has to be a greater push in this direction. To begin with, there is a need for more consultancies or engineering firms that understand mining operations as well as decarbonization strategies.
Q: How do your consultancy services work?
A: When we are contracted by a company, we first conduct diagnostics of its energy consumption. We find out what they are consuming, where and how much. In some cases, the owner of the mine will have an idea that is very different from the real situation. It is hard to control what you are consuming if you do not know.
The next step for us is to define a series of actions that can be implemented. Some are what we call “quick wins,” small steps that can be taken quickly and at a low cost. We offer advice on energy generation and purchasing, equipment control and monitoring, and also offer greener alternatives for transport. Apart from our energy diagnosis, we can do more integrated studies with a software called Prosumer. This software allows us to simulate different scenarios for the generation and consumption of energy. The scenarios can be set to the objectives of the client.
Q: What specific solutions do you offer?
A: Our interventions on average lead to 5-15 percent in energy savings. The first are operational and focused on saving. Some simple measures can save a lot of energy. To give you an example, one client was pumping water from the sea to its plant outside sun hours. We advised them to pump water during the sun hours, when electricity is cheaper. This had zero costs of implementation. Another example is to determine the optimal usage of a mill machine with regard to levels of energy consumption. We are not changing the mill, simply rectifying its usage.
In other cases, we have offered more elaborate solutions. Our goal is to build a long-term relationship with our clients to support them in their decarbonization process.
Q: Do you enter a project while it is already operating or can you also help a business to design a new project?
A: Traditionally mines were designed for production, not for the efficient consumption of energy and reduction of emissions. For those that are already running, we use our study to enact a transformation. We also offer what we call "Design to Green", which means a support from the very beginning of the project, contributing with a sustainable look along the design of the plant.
Q: Mining companies also aim to develop their surrounding communities. How involved are you in this?
A: ENGIE is able to support mining companies in their relationship with the surrounding communities, helping them to generate relationships that foster the development of the community, as well as that it can benefit from the existence of the mining company, such as by surrendering excess energy generated.