Germany’s BayWa r.e. AG and Suntrace GmbH have announced that they have completed commissioning of the world’s largest off-grid solar-plus-storage hybrid system for the mining industry. The 30 MW solar-battery hybrid plant is hybridised with 15.4 MWh of battery storage. The facility is located at the Fekola gold mine in Mali, West Africa.
Fekola gold mine is owned by Canadian mining company, B2Gold Corp. (CA).
The solar-battery hybrid plant was integrated and commissioned successfully with the existing power plant operation, and the solar plant is on course to be 100% complete by the end of June.
The PV-battery system will help to reduce CO2 emissions by 39 000 tonnes per year
Hybrid projects such as this, which combine solar energy with conventional energy generation and battery storage, are an effective way to provide reliable power supply day and night in off-grid areas.
BayWa r.e. renewable energy GmbH, and Suntrace GmbH, Germany’s largest renewable energy cluster of firms, were selected by B2Gold Corporation in 2019 to implement the project following completion of preliminary studies by both companies.
Dennis Stansbury, Senior Vice President at B2Gold, commented: “Suntrace and BayWa r.e. have played a vital role in our work towards more sustainable production at Fekola. The implementation of a solar-battery hybrid system was an obvious choice to help achieve this, not only for its environmental credentials, but also its economic viability. This is a landmark project which we expect to pave the way for more sustainable power generation within the mining industry in West Africa.”
The solar-plus-storage plant to reduce use of oil generators
The Fekola gold mine operates 24-hours a day. During the daytime, the new 30 MW solar-plus-storage plant allows three out of six heavy fuel oil generators to be shut down; the energy production of the residual three generators could also be significantly reduced. The 15.4 MWh battery storage compensates energy generation fluctuations and assures a reliable operation, which allows up to 75% of the electricity demand of the gold mine to be covered by renewable energy during the daytime.
Hybrid projects such as this, which combine solar energy with conventional energy generation and battery storage, are an effective way to provide reliable power supply day and night in off-grid areas. Ideally suited to their needs, B2Gold approved the hybrid project for implementation in July 2019, following completion of preliminary studies by Suntrace and BayWa r.e..
“Integrating such a large amount of solar into a small, isolated grid safely and reliably has been a major technical challenge and required the use of battery storage as well as a tailor-made control system. This was conceptualised in the early stages of the project and we ensured that our vision was implemented accordingly by the suppliers. It is extremely rewarding to see how well this solution performs in reality and shows that the technology works and is just waiting to be applied on further projects,” Thorsten Althaus, Project Manager at BayWa r.e., added.