The electrification of haul trucks is noted as one of the biggest challenges to decarbonising mining operations
Global technology company Hitachi Energy has been selected as a technology vendor in the Charge On Innovation Challenge.
Founded by BHP, Rio Tinto and Vale, together with multiple industry patrons, the initiative sees the world’s mining industry unite to solve one of the biggest challenges in decarbonising mining operations – the electrification of haul trucks.
Hitachi Energy’s proposal met the judges’ rigorous criteria for interoperable solutions, the company says.
The flexible design enables electricity to be safely delivered to large battery-powered off-road electric haul trucks, while maintaining or improving productivity levels.
The end-to-end solution connects the mine’s electrical grid directly to its haul trucks and other vehicles, such as excavators.
Advanced power electronics and digital technologies are key to the design of Hitachi Energy’s innovative solution to electrify the haul trucks, which are used to transport materials.
At the heart of the design is Grid-eMotion Flash – a pioneering solution for sustainable e-mobility, enabling the haul trucks’ batteries to be rapidly and safely recharged in just a few minutes, the company explains.
“Hitachi Energy has leveraged our Grid eMotion Flash technology from the transportation industry and is adopting it to meet the specifications and technical requirements of the mining industry,” Hitachi Energy Industry Solutions VP Matt Zafuto tells Mining Weekly.
To further optimise energy use across the mine, Hitachi Energy is also able to deliver a full solution, including its e-mesh digital solutions for e-mobility.
Moreover, there is a holistic and detailed monitoring and control solution for the charging process and the grid connection system. A range of remote and on site services will also be made available to support the transition to the new technologies and the efficient operation of the new infrastructure.
“The Charge On Innovation Challenge is another great example of how we are collaborating with whole industries to accelerate the energy transition towards a carbon-neutral future.”
“Hitachi Energy’s proposal is for an innovative haul truck 24/7 electrification solution that will help the world’s mining industry to decarbonise without compromising on productivity.
“Electricity will be the backbone of the entire energy system and together with customers and partners, Hitachi Energy is pioneering technologies and software for advancing a sustainable energy future for all,” says Hitachi Energy CTO Gerhard Salge.
Zafuto indicates that the company anticipated this development in late 2020, and was already in high-level planning when the Charge On solicitation became public in early 2021.
Unit tests will begin at the end of 2023 and field trials will begin in early 2024.
Hitachi Energy intends to make its solution available to all interested truck original-equipment manufacturers.
The solution delivers 8 MW of power, which enables vehicles to be charged in just a few minutes in a safe way at the points of loading and unloading.
Flash charging means that trucks can operate 24/7.
It has an interoperable, flexible energy transfer system that is free of any catenary infrastructure and that can easily adapt to mine site changes over time.
It also boasts dynamic energy management to increase reliability, resiliency and power quality as mining operations transition to broader electrification including their larger haul trucks.
The solution is posited to achieve greater levels of sustainability, while maintaining core operating practices and productivity of the mine.
Zafuto expands that the solution engenders reduced energy costs as a result of transitioning to electrified vehicles from diesel power; reduced carbon emissions at the mine site owing to vehicle electrification; and an overall increase in environmental sustainability for mining customers by reducing their dependence on petroleum and diesel products.
In terms of challenges, he notes that electrification of haul trucks will require validating that the local grid is able to deliver the energy required for the trucks in a safe, efficient way.
“Hitachi Energy has vast experience in energy delivery and microgrids, along with the software systems, communications and digital technology required to deliver fully electrified operations at the mine site,” he acclaims.