Industrial businesses like rock quarries and mining operations demand large amounts of energy to power their operations, and they are dealing with pressure from governments, customers, and other stakeholders to operate sustainably. Utilizing solar energy both reduces their power costs and helps reduce their carbon footprint.
Commercial solar developer Stellar Energy is emerging as an industry expert and leader within the sector. After completing three solar power projects at quarries and mines, they are installing their fourth at a gold mine in Nevada.
Because of extreme terrain and climate, design and installation of solar systems around quarries and mines require advanced engineering, diligent safety protocols and project management, and careful product selection. Significant engineering challenges, both structurally and electrically, need to be overcome to deploy a system at such locations. Stellar Energy, for example, helped a client position a PV array on an otherwise unusable (and steep) mountainside. Other challenging sites that Stellar had to face include the top of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Mammoth Lakes and the center of Death Valley in California.
Despite Stellar Energy’s success in this space, it was not the company’s original intention, according to Ted Walsh, VP of Sales and Marketing at Stellar Energy. They were selected in 2007 to engineer, design, and construct the 1.5MW Barrick-Western Power Plant at the Goldstrike Mine in Nevada. The experience and expertise they gained from solving major design and engineering challenges during this project became increasingly valuable as other mines and quarries wanted to do the same thing.
After their second project in the space, a mountainside quarry in Northern California, Stellar Energy was approached by a Fortune 500 company to install solar at a large sand mine.
Michael Mittleman, President and Senior Vice-President of Operations at Stellar Energy, said: “Mines and quarries require a tremendous amount of electricity to power their facilities and their location often presents a challenging build environment. Installing solar on quarries and mining facilities requires complex design and engineering solutions, exacting project management, and very careful planning. Unlike many competing solar companies that outsource those high-value engineering skills or focus only on cookie-cutter opportunities, we have a team of specialists at Stellar Energy that thrive on challenges.”
The environmental and financial benefits that solar delivers are compelling for the quarry and mining facilities if the system is optimally installed and operating properly. These benefits are especially attractive to mining companies that have already committed significant resource toward a mine’s success.
The Renewable Energy and Mining Summit in Toronto on September 25th aims to bring together the global mining industry and the renewable energy sector to outline opportunities and barriers for solving mining’s energy dilemma with renewable energy sources.