A Peruvian energy company is using Caterpillar equipment for a microgrid recently installed at a copper mine.
An energy company owned by Ferrycorp, a Peruvian conglomerate, commissioned the project in the second quarter at the Agromin La Bonita underground copper mine in Acarí, Peru, Bob Chase, a Caterpillar spokesman, said September 10.
The microgrid includes a 960-kW solar array, a dozen 75-kV power inverters, a 1.5 MVA power transformer, and a 500-meter medium-voltage transmission line. The microgrid will help provide around-the-clock power for mine lighting and ventilation, ore processing and worker accommodations, according to Caterpillar.
“Southern Peru features some of the highest photovoltaic power potential in the world, making it an ideal location for a solar microgrid system,” said Bart Myers, general manager for Caterpillar Large Electric Power Solutions.
Caterpillar says its hybrid energy solutions technology suite can cut fuel expenses, lower utility bills, decrease emissions and reduce the cost of ownership while increasing energy resiliency. The suite includes a microgrid controller and lithium-ion batteries.
Caterpillar’s system has been used at several microgrid applications, including a hybrid microgrid at B2Gold’s Otjikoto mine in Namibia. The project includes 7 MW of solar that provides about half the mine’s energy needs during peak daylight hours, according to the company.
Caterpillar isn’t alone in developing microgrids for the energy intensive mining sector. Siemens and renewable energy developer juwi, for example, in November started a partnership focused on setting up mining-oriented microgrids.
Like other sectors, miners are facing growing pressure from investors focused on environment, social and governance, or ESG, criteria. Renewable-based microgrids may provide a way for mining companies to respond to the issue.
In May, Gold Fields, a South African mining company, set up an $80 million, 56-MW microgrid at its Agnew mine in Western Australia. The project, built and owned by EDL, an energy company, includes a 21-MW gas/diesel generator, 18 MW of wind, 4 MW of solar and a 13 MW/4 MWh battery system. The renewables provide about half of the Agnew mine’s electricity.