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Solar panels a cost saving alternative for remote mines

Hybrid solar power plants can reduce the fuel costs of mines and industry and provide reliable power at a predictable rate.

This is according to Greg Austin, Managing Director of renewable energy company Juwi, who recently gave concrete examples at African Utility Week of where solar power plants are successfully operating.

Juwi commissioned the world’s biggest solar-battery-diesel hybrid system for the DeGrussa copper-gold mine in Western Australia. The mine is off the country’s electricity grid,saving some 20% on its former diesel consumption bill and is running smoothly thanks to solar panels that cover an area that is roughly the size of 40 football fields.

According to the company, the dramatic reductions in the price of solar have made the shift to hybrid energy attractive to investors.

“South African and regional mining operations are showing increasing interest in hybrid and green power solutions‚” Austin revealed during the presentation.

“Power prices for solar and wind are now cheaper than gas‚ coal and nuclear. For example‚ solar PV supplies 60% of the power needed on a mine in Limpopo.”

The company has an installed total capacity of 4 300 megawatts around the world and about 200 MW in South Africa.

Juwi’s Amiran Roth-Deblan added, “The investment in renewable energy globally since 2015 has overtaken the investment in gas‚ coal and nuclear.

“Roughly a quarter (24%) of Africa’s population of more than a billion people currently have access to power through the traditional grid.”

According to Juwi,  African utilities are increasingly approaching the private sector to help with generation gaps, and the hybrid energy model is one of these solutions.

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