Carlos Ortiz
Director General
View from the Top

Sustainably Fueling the Mining Industry

Wed, 10/19/2016 - 11:25

Q: What importance does the mining sector have for Greenergy’s business in Mexico?

A: We are interested in mining sites or projects with a lack of local grid connection, which are using generators in order to satisfy energy needs the most common type being diesel generators. These have capacities that range from 300kW to several hundred MW, and diesel consumption and associated expenses are high. In order to reduce operational costs in a mining site, we believe it would be an attractive alternative for many companies to use solar power instead of diesel generators. Due to its intermittency solar power cannot be fully relied upon but using this power source as a percentage of generation will allow a reduction in diesel consumption, which will generate more efficiencies.

Q: As a water-intensive industry, what considerations must be made by miners in terms of its availability?

A: We have obtained information from mine sites that details their water requirements, and many companies must obtain water from various different sites around the mine rather than extracting the resource from just one point. Each pump also requires trenches to be dug for power lines, meaning that the practice of extracting water from various locations is extremely expensive. This is an off-grid system for water pumping, and it also allows electrification of mining camps during the exploration phase. In this instance, it takes around 12-18 months to establish a camp, and the energy required in these campsites can be provided by solar power. This solution is completely mobile, and if at any point it is no longer required we can remove it and install it in another site. It will be more of a leasing solution than an acquisition solution.

Q: Can you explain the intricacies of your Fuel Save solution that you developed with SMA Solar Technology?

A: Typically in a mining site that uses diesel generators, they must constantly be running, meaning that they must always be fed with fuel, and this comes at a high cost to operators. Diesel generators are also inefficient machines. When the comparison is made between the value obtained from 1kWh produced with diesel and the same amount produced by the national grid, diesel generators are four or five times more expensive. The Fuel Save solution is an intelligent controller in a power plant that is connected to the grid. The diesel generator would be used continuously but at times of peak demand the system would automatically drive the generator at a slower rate and solar energy would supply the deficit, meaning a decrease in diesel consumption. If production is low but the sun is strong, the Fuel Save controller will open the circuit and solar inverters in order to avoid damage to the electrical network. If investment is made in solar power in an area with electrical networks, with a set price per kWh, ROI would be generated within 10 years. However, when paying five times more for electricity using a diesel generator set, the investment will be recovered in one and a half years.

Q: What are the main projects the company is working on?

A: In relation to services and large-scale production, we are in negotiations with developers for the operation and maintenance of large solar plants. These are 15-20 year contracts. In distributed generation, below 500kW, we are currently one of the main distributors for solar installers in the country. We think we will become one of the top three players in the distributed generation market, and it is extremely important that we provide solutions, whether for mining operators or for large scale developers. For the public sector, we are currently one of the most important suppliers of rural electrification in off-grid communities. We have installed more than 800 systems in 24 different states, which totals 7.5MW of power