In the briefing paper entitled Solar, storage and mining: New opportunities for solar power development, Dr Thomas Hillig from THEnergy and Dr James Watson of SolarPower Europe explore the growth of solar solutions in the mining sector and provide some guidance for solar companies interested in engaging with the mining sector.
Solar is already used by grid connected and off-grid mines, and the phenomenon is growing, according to both companies. They believe that mines are often very remote and must therefore deal with challenges regarding electricity price and reliability. But, according to Hillig and Watson, solar energy could reduce costs. In many locations, solar power is competitive with conventional energy for grid-connected applications, and could be a more cost-effective solution for isolated mines. Several projects also show how energy storage solutions support solar penetration in combined solar-diesel-hybrid projects.
The growth of solar for mines could provide new opportunities for the European solar sector, both in Europe and further afield. The briefing observes that, although the application of solar for mining is still a niche prospect, industry-specific marketing and a united solar industry approach are likely to increase the rate of penetration of solar into the mining sector.