Study: Mining Companies Can Benefit from Renewable Energy


The mining industry can significantly reduce its diesel fuel consumption when developing new mineral deposits by using microgrids with renewable energy sources. This is the conclusion of a study on “Mobile Solar and Wind Diesel Hybrid Solutions for Mineral Exploration.”

CrossPower, developed by Pfisterer, is a hybrid and mobile energy system for setting up microgrids combining conventional and renewable energy sources. It is ideal for the requirements of exploration teams and is also scalable for the stationary supply of entire mines.

Supplying power to remote exploration camps is a significant cost factor in mineral exploration. This is because diesel fuel for generators has to be transported over large distances, sometimes even by helicopter. Renewable energy has become much cheaper over the last decade — but conventional installations are designed for an operational lifespan of at least 25 years. This is incompatible with the short-term needs of exploration teams, who only ever explore for new mineral resources for a short period at one site. At such an early stage of the mining process, there is no guarantee of finding sufficient deposits to justify a commitment to substantial infrastructure with long-term obligations.

Pfisterer — the leading manufacturer of fittings and accessories for underground cables and overhead lines — and consulting firm THEnergy therefore conducted a study on “Mobile Solar and Wind Diesel Hybrid Solutions for Mineral Exploration” to investigate solutions that use the savings potential of renewable energy in the exploration process.

Mobile Microgrid Container

“Exploration companies want power solutions that are reliable and can be used at more than one site,” said Martin Schuster, senior adviser at Pfisterer. “Military applications have similar requirements. Our system won a highly coveted NATO contract and has already been successfully used for the NATO Energy Security Centre of Excellence.”

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The CrossPower Small Grid (SG) energy system Pfisterer developed for mining exploration is based on the same CrossPower technology. Transportable microgrid containers that are easy to install and remove form isolated energy grids combining photovoltaics and wind turbines with conventional diesel generators.

Reliable and Economical

CrossPower combines hybrid power generation with an intelligent management system. This guarantees a highly reliable power supply even on a cloudy or windless day. Modern lithium-ion batteries store the renewable energy, which is automatically prioritized by the management system. Diesel generators charge the batteries only as required, and

therefore operate in their optimum output range. This cuts fuel consumption by more than 50 percent and makes the system remarkably efficient.

Since much less diesel is needed, the number of cost-intensive fuel shipments is reduced at the same time. Moreover, the entire system is based on touch-safe design and can be sited in the close vicinity of tents and equipment.

Scalable Size

CrossPower is available in different sizes, tailored to customers’ individual needs. These range from mobile systems for exploration teams to the stationary CrossPower Large Grid (LG) with a power of 5,000 kW and more, which even enables entire mines to be powered. The system is always designed for easy transportation in containers.

Each facility’s final system design depends on the level of the output power and is always geared toward the customers’ individual requirements. This applies to the energy mix as well as the size and number of containers. 

Source: Pfisterer

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