At the suffocating grip of high fossil fuel costs, mining companies around the globe are turning to renewable energy systems for power.
This week, RWE Innogy commissioned its 20.5-MW wind farm at Titz in Germany’s Rhenish mining area.
“We are thrilled to see our turbine blades turning at Titz,” RWE Innorgy CEO Dr. Hans Bunting told Clean Technica. “Our beacon project in the expansion of renewables in the Rhenish mining area is now contributing power to the grid. Our Jüchen project will add another wind farm to the mining area at the end of this year – thanks in part to the close co-operation with our RWE Power affiliate.”
“The RWE wind farm and another one in the south of our municipality are already generating more power than all the businesses and households in Titz consume, added Titz Mayor Jurgen Frantzen.” That’s our contribution to the energy turnaround, and we are proud of it.”
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China's Jinko solar also recently announced a 1-MW solar energy project at a chromium mine in South Africa, the country's first off-grid, utility-scaled solar PV system.
“While the global demand for South African coal, platinum, palladium and chromium increases, mines and other industrial consumers face power supply constraints due to capacity challenges at Eskom, South Africa’s only national power provider,” Solea Renewables director Vusi Mhlanzi stated in a press release. “The turnkey delivery of our PV plants will not only benefit end-users, but it will in turn help reduce the ever present and increasing energy demand Eskom faces.”
In June, Brazil's Vale SA, the world's largest iron ore producer, pledged to invest $315 million in the construction of two wind farms developed by Australia's Pacific Hydro Pty.
“Vale’s global electricity demand is expected to grow 150 percent by 2020,” said Vania Somavilla, Vale’s director of human resources, health and safety, sustainability, and energy. “We’re looking for alternatives to meet this necessity in a sustainable manner.”
This emerging trend of mining companies turning to renewables can be seen in a string of other recent announcements, which is set to gain more momentum in upcoming years. As renewables become competitively priced with fossil fuels, clean energy also offers several other benefits and advantages. It gives mining companies an opportunity to own and gain financial returns by developing their own systems, reduce CO2 emissions, foster more sustainable economic development and improve relationships in the surrounding community. It also shields mining companies from increasingly high and volatile fossil fuel costs.
Socio-economically, it will also help pave the way for more clean energy development in the communities the mining companies operate in, selling surplus power from the renewable energy systems to the local communities.