The objective for Suntrace was to elaborate a solar PV fuel saver for a mine that had a 24/7 diesel genset power supply. The PV array needed to be seamlessly integrated to the diesel engines to ensure no interruption in power supply. The mining industry in Namibia is very energy-intensive and most mines are situated in remote areas. Diesel costs are also rather high owing to the transportation to remote areas and the ever fluctuation of prices that are influenced by the international fuel market. Moreover, an expected shortage on the Namibian energy market due to a shift in the exports from South Africa allows for PV and Diesel/ HFO hybrid systems to ensure stable energy supply with high fuel saving potential. The scenario presented was that of an off grid mine with a stable load curve electricity demand, that was purely covered by diesel and HFO engines. Highly volatile oil prices and logistic uncertainties of supply were of increasing concern to management.
Suntrace´s scope of work contained the elaboration of a geographic information system (GIS) based analysis as well as a solar resource assessment and an assessment of mine operating profile and engine management scenarios. Suntrace elaborated a feasibility study for solar PV as a fuel saver and defined the technical concept with technology comparison of various alternatives. More tasks were such as the conceptual engineering and energy yield modeling, providing the technical specifications for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) as well as for operation and maintenance (O&M) tender (request for proposals, proposal analysis and evaluation, contract negotiations). Fuel savings for the client with this approach calculated by Suntrace could easily reach two digit millions of US dollars over a decade of contractual lifetime and amortize within few years even under depressed oil prices. To assume the necessary capital cost for the investment, Suntrace received more than sufficient interest among investors and potential lenders to finance a Build-Own Operate Scheme under a long term PPA contract.