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Off-grid gold, as Baywa r.e. celebrates solar-storage project win in Mali

Existing Baywa solar project in Zambia. Images: Baywa.

Updated 15 October 2019: As below, Baywa r.e. later offered Energy-Storage.news a brief but exclusive commentary via a spokesperson on how the company sees the market potential for battery energy storage developing:

Energy storage will play an important role in the transition to a sustainable energy future. Thus, it is also important for BayWa r.e.’s present and future activities. With decreasing costs for PV systems and battery storage systems, there are more and more applications evolving.

We have already gained significant experience in the battery storage field over the past years and successfully realized a number of battery storage systems, for example several C&I applications in Europe for peak shaving and self-consumption as well as the AKTC farm project in Zambia (PV-storage system to ensure a stable irrigation system for a local farm - pictured above).

On the utility scale side we also see an increasing amount of storage systems being deployed globally covering a range of use cases such as ancillary services, energy shifting and reducing the dependency on diesel in weak or off grid areas. The Mali project will be the first operational large scale storage project with BayWa r.e. involvement, but there are more to follow.

 

Germany-headquartered renewables developer Baywa will deploy a solar-plus-storage solution for a goldmine in Mali that will include 13.5MWh of battery storage and reduce the mine's dependence on heavy fuel oil during the daytime.

Partnering with fellow solutions provider and developer Suntrace, Baywa has been awarded the US$38 million project by B2Gold, owner and operator of Fekola gold mine in Mali, West Africa. B2Gold approved the project for go-ahead following Baywa and Suntrace's preliminary technical and economic feasibility study work.

One of the world's more prolific renewables developers, Baywa has not appeared eager to make significant entry into the battery energy storage market to date. Energy-Storage.news requested comment from Baywa's leadership on the changing potential for renewables with storage for this story but did not receive a reply in time for publication (see quote added above post-publication).

With solar PV integrated with the site's existing power station which uses heavy fuel oil (HFO) and diesel gensets, batteries will be used to compensate for short-term fluctuations in solar power output during those daytime hours, rather than storing daytime energy for later use. Using 30MW of 'net capacity' in this way, B2Gold hopes it can then switch off up to three heavy fuel oil (HFO) generators.

B2Gold could then reduce HFO use by as much as 13.1 million litres on the site annually, as well as offering an opportunity to reduce carbon emissions. The mine operator has retained Baywa and Suntrace to continue on with the project as its engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) partners and to otherwise support the Fekola project, scheduled for completion by August 2020 and set to begin construction before the end of this year.

Baywa r.e. regional manager for Africa Tobias Kriete said that of the project that: “...fuel savings will enable repayment on the investment as well as lower energy costs and cut carbon emissions,” while Suntrace COO Martin Schecht said the plan for Fekola gold mine “is a landmark in terms of battery and PV plant size with respect to an off-grid project .”

Gold mines in particular have long been a popular and economically competitive opportunity for off-grid renewables-plus-storage, being energy intensive but also high value, with Baywa's German rival juwi already executing a sizeable project of that nature in Australia in 2015, while more recently, among several other projects announced and reported by Energy-Storage.news, another gold mine project in Mali has been announced by developer Ignite Energy and mine owner Resolute Mining to replace a 28MW diesel genset with solar and battery storage.

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