Technology group Wärtsilä and energy management and automation company Schneider Electric have developed an end-to-end power system reference design, aimed specifically at lithium mine operations where there is no access to a grid supply of electricity.
The solution contributes to sustainable lithium production by enhancing the efficient delivery and use of energy, and by leveraging microgrids and enabling renewable energy sources.
The overall objective of this collaborative development is to provide high-efficiency power solutions with a low environmental footprint for the mining industry.
Further, predictability of parts and maintenance costs reduces the need for working capital.
The developers state that the system has been designed to offer an “economically viable total expenditure” that covers the complete process, including consulting, project design, the power infrastructure, equipment delivery, installation and commissioning.
The design concept expands to the lifecycle of the mine and it links the availability and performance of the power generating plant to a mine’s productivity.
Shared business case incentives, based on key performance indicators for the power generation, reduce operational costs and enhance power availability, thereby supporting a mine’s production targets, the developers say.
In a joint statement, Wärtsilä Energy strategic partnership director Jean Nabb and Schneider Electric VP and mining, minerals and metals segment leader Vivek Kapoor say the increasing global demand for lithium needed for battery storage applications is putting pressure on mining operations to be as efficient and cost-effective as possible.
They explain that the power supply is a key element in this, and together, Wärtsilä and Schneider Electric have designed a solution that harnesses the strengths and experience of their two companies.
“It will not only guarantee a reliable energy supply, but will do so with economic and environmental benefits that will raise the efficiency of the mining operations,” say Nabb and Kapoor.
Wärtsilä and Schneider Electric signed the framework cooperation agreement for the development of the design for mining energy solutions in March 2020.
The parties aim to enhance customer benefit in mining projects by offering solutions based on mutually complementary technologies.
The business White Paper recommending power generation and electrical distribution for high altitude lithium mines was published in June.