A solar tracker pilot project has been launched at Anglo Platinum’s Mogalakwena Mine on 27 November 2014, which has the potential to be a game changer for the energy constrained South African mining industry. The technology entails a unique feature – tracking the sun – to maximize energy generation for mining projects and operations. This next generation of solar technology, innovated by Ideematec from Germany has a 25% higher energy yield than conventional ground mounted solar systems, is being tried at Anglo Platinum who recognise the upside potential und potential use for future mining projects and need to generate offgrid, independent power.
The pilot plant entails 2 tracking systems with 48 solar modules that follow the path of the sun. The total capacity is 11.52kW, will generate 26,000 kWh per annum and result in C02 savings of 17.2 tons per annum. The pilot plant currently powers Mogalakwena Mine’s main office block but can be scaled up to MW by adding multiple units to generate daytime power for mineral processing plants and general operations. An 8.5 MW solar tracker project has been completed recently in Ruanda.
The project was initiated by green energy project developer GX Energy SA (Pty) Ltd who worked in close association with Anglo Platinum Group Energy Engineer Gerhard van den Berg and German innovator and technology company Ideematec who invented the solar tracker system. Anglo Platinum’s Gerhard van den Berg and GX Energy S.A’s Mike Seeger recognised that the mining industry requires a physical showcase in order to demonstrate the effectiveness and applicability of this new generation solar technology, before it is considered on a large scale. The main sponsor of the project is the German Development Bank, which sponsors renewable energy pilot plants to open new markets for innovative technology made in Germany. Quality control is ensured by German veteran engineer Dr Wolfgang Jockel, who has accompanied multiple technology and innovation projects of such nature across the globe.
Anglo Platinum’s Mogalakwena Mine, recognising the potential benefit of this technology and being open to new innovations in mining, gave full cooperation and support to this project, allocated senior project management staff to it, assisted with logistics and completed the required civil work and security fence to ensure successful installation. This innovative and potentially far reaching nature and application of the technology and application has attracted the Electrical Engineering Department of the University of the Witwatersrand, to undertake studies over the next year to determine the technical performance and economic benefits of the system at this crucial time in South Africa’s mining industry, where power constraints are hampering business.
Future mine development projects will have to rely on such technologies to generate offgrid power for their projects, as reliance from government power utilities is no longer guaranteed. Existing mining operations can use the solar tracker solution to reduce their grid based power pull from utilities and increase their power independence. Apart from this, there is a significant saving in CO2 emissions.