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Aggreko to Deploy Hybrid Power System for Andes Gold Mine at 4,500 Meters

Jan. 22, 2021
Aggreko, the world’s leading provider of mobile and modular power solutions, has signed a contract with Gold Fields, a global mining operator, to provide 25.9 MW hybrid solar and thermal power solution to the Salares Norte open pit mine in northern Chile.

Aggreko, the world’s leading provider of mobile and modular power solutions, has signed a contract with Gold Fields, a global mining operator, to provide a total of 25.9 MW hybrid solar and thermal power solution to the Salares Norte open pit mine in the north of Chile. This ground-breaking solution has been designed to provide power for the entire mine, which sits at an altitude of 4,500 meters in the Andes mountain range and is 190 kilometers from the nearest town. The mine is 1,000 kilometers north of Santiago, Chile’s capital.

The hybrid system will comprise both tailor-made high-altitude performance diesel gensets and Aggreko Solar Power units, optimized for off-grid applications and ready to meet the extreme wind conditions these units will experience. The gensets will each deliver 772 kW and will incorporate Spinning Reserve and Cold Reserve units to efficiently manage peaks in demand. This diesel generation system will be integrated with solar units, which, once installed, will provide 9.9 MW of cost and emission-free power. The mine is scheduled to begin operation in mid-2022.

The system will deliver a reliable, modular power supply across all five of the mine’s distribution points, while surpassing the Chilean government’s environmental standards as well as Gold Fields’ requirement for a minimum of 20-percent renewable power generation for mining operations.

Once complete, it will achieve $7.4 million in cost of energy savings over the next decade and a further $1.1 million in carbon tax offset over the Aggreko project lifetime in addition to 104,000 tonnes of carbon emissions savings. The modular rental solution also supports a consolidated CAPEX outlay, allowing for greater cost control and variable commitments while ensuring continued operational excellence at the mine.

The deployment of this hybrid solution follows Aggreko’s recent launch of Aggreko Solar Power, which will be deployed to provide power at the site. The solar power solution is optimized for weak or off-grid energy applications, providing clean and efficient power supply to a range of operations without long-term financial commitments.

Commenting on the news, Pablo Varela, Latin America managing director for Aggreko said: “As the energy transition continues to gather pace, our customers are increasingly looking for more flexible power solutions which can reliably support operations while reducing carbon emissions and lowering costs. Hybrid products, such as the one we are deploying for Salares Norte, enable a reliable and flexible power supply whilst reducing carbon emissions, thanks to the incorporation of Aggreko Solar Power units as part of the system. Having a standardized product such as this provides the kind of consistency and reliability which our customers have come to expect from us.”

The 10-year contract between Aggreko and Gold Fields for power generation at the mine represents the strong working relationship between the companies, and follows a history of successful collaborations globally, such as the recent installation of one of the world’s largest renewable microgrids at Gold Fields’ Granny Smith mine in Western Australia. At full capacity, Salares Norte will produce an average of 450,000 ounces of gold per year with Aggreko as the sole power provider.

         “We have a relationship of trust with the customer,” Varela told RER. “And the technology is always improving and developing, so we are constantly looking for new solutions. We will begin the project with the best technology that we have available, but the customer understands that we will be constantly looking to improve it as we go along. It benefits us and it benefits the customer. Aggreko is incentivized to improve the efficiency of the technology. If we develop better solutions ourselves, we will use it in the project. If we discover something from another source, we will acquire it to use for this project.”

            Varela said the solar panels are spread out in valleys between the mountains, covering a 1.7-hectar area. The solar units will run in the daytime, with the aid of lithium battery technology. The diesel-powered units will run at night.