Renewable Energy In Mining Industry: Overview
The mining industry traditionally relies on the conventional fossil based sources of energy such as diesel, oil and natural gas to fulfill the energy demand. The industry is now competing with the increased prices of the fuel which leads the operator to operate on less operating margins. The mining industry is expanding its wings into new remote locations to meet the emerging demand of the energy. Typically use of large diesel equipments on mining site resulting in a dependency on the diesel fuel. As maximum locations for mining are in remote areas making it difficult to provide grid connectivity, increasing its reliability on on-site generation.
The emerging demand for the energy and volatility in the market price of conventional fuel are the main drivers for the renewable energy in mining industry. Additional cost of setting equipments for generation from renewable sources and low capacity utilization factor are the major constraints for the industry. Allocation of new mines, innovative technologies used in locating resources and rising demand for resources bring new market opportunities for the new players to invest in the market.
Renewable Energy In Mining Industry: Segmentation
The renewable energy in mining industry can be segmented on the basis of technology used for power generation on site. Majorly solar and wind technology can be used on mining sites to provide power. Solar power can be directly converted into electricity through photovoltaic cells and concentrated solar power technique. Today photovoltaic cells provide 0.1% of the total global electricity production. Photovoltaic is a commercially reliable and viable technology with a huge potential for the long term growth across all the world regions.
Photovoltaic technology is further segmented into crystalline silicone, thin film and concentrator technologies. Crystalline silicone technology contributes about 85-90% to the global market for solar. Crystalline silicone is further divided into multi-crystalline and single-crystalline. Thin film is further divided into amorphous & micromorph silicone, cooper-indium diselenide, cadmium telluride and copper indium gallium diselenide. Concentrator technology uses optical concentrator system which focuses solar radiation onto high efficiency solar cells. This technology is under development phase.
Large wind farms consist of hundreds of wind turbines connected to the power transmission network. The earth’s surface heats and cools unequally resulting in the creation of atmospheric pressure zones that make air to flow from high pressure zone to low pressure zone. This wind is used to rotate the turbines of the large wind mills for power generation. The amount of generation depends on the velocity of the wind where the wind farm is installed. Wind turbines are majorly classified into horizontal axis and vertical axis turbines. A horizontal axis turbine has its blade rotating on the axis parallel to the ground whereas vertical axis has its blade rotating on the axis perpendicular to the ground. The cut in speed for the wind turbines is in the range of 10-16 kmph and is defined as the minimum speed at which the blades will rotate and generate usable power.
Renewable Energy In Mining Industry: Region-wise Outlook
In the Asia Pacific region China and India are the major countries using above stated technologies for power generation. In the European region Germany, France and United Kingdom are the major users of the solar and wind technologies in power generation. In the North American region the United States and Canada are the major countries generating power from solar and wind.
Key players in providing renewable energy in mining industry are Gamesha, E.ON, Vestas, Siemens, Iberdrola Renowables, General Electric, NextEra, Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd., First Solar and Hanwha SolarOne among others.
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