Energy intensive industries, such as the mining and minerals sector, are under pressure from governments, investors, and society to reduce carbon emissions even as demand for these minerals grow. With most industry players commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, it is crucial that the mining industry is very deliberate about how it meets the energy needs for its operations, and how it decarbonises.
Speaking to customers on the side-lines of this year’s Mining Indaba conference in Cape Town, South Africa, GE Gas Power’s Executive, Oluwatoyin Abegunde said: “The complementary strength of gas and renewables plays a critical role in delivering lower carbon, and more reliable electrical power generation. As Sub-Saharan Africa balances the need for more access to power, along with the push towards more sustainable energy sources, the accelerated and strategic deployment of renewables and gas power together can reduce carbon emissions quickly.”
GE has been collaborating with energy stakeholders to deploy innovative technologies tailored to respond to the needs of the mining sector. In Botswana, GE gas turbines are providing Orapa diamond mines’ 90 MW turbine power plant facility with reliable power, as well as supplementing the country’s energy needs. In Nigeria, GE’s gas turbine technology is supporting Dangote Cement in Obajana located in North Central Nigeria, to reduce unplanned downtime, improve operational efficiency and become energy self-sufficient.
“Adding renewables as quickly as Africa can afford to, while also switching significant coal or diesel generation to gas, will be required to help address climate change with the required pace and scale,” said Abegunde. “In Africa, where historically diesel and Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) have dominated the power generation landscape, GE’s technology offers a reliable, cost effective and sustainable pathway for reducing carbon emissions for industry players in the mining and metals, plastic, paper and pulp, and chemicals industries, among others.”
Thermal hybrid applications, involving the interfaced operation of a thermal asset with a renewable and/or an energy storage asset, are expanding the possibilities of electricity generation. GE says its aeroderivative gas turbines are the ideal solution for mining operations as they are light weight with a smaller footprint and with lower carbon emissions, high cycle elasticity and shorter downtime than competing technologies. Aeroderivative gas turbines can also be used in thermal hybrids for a variety of industrial applications like mining and metals.
Abegunde notes that GE is a leader in combustion technology. GE’s gas turbines can operate on a wide variety of gas and liquid fuels. Gaseous fuels include natural gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG), flare gases, lean methane, refinery gases, as well as ethane, propane, and other higher molecular weight hydrocarbons, ie natural gas liquids (NGLs) and liquid petroleum gas (LPG). Liquid fuels include diesel (also known as light distillate or diesel fuel oil, biodiesel, condensates, crude oils, and heavy/residual fuel oils).