Wärtsilä picked for Baywa’s unsubsidised Mali goldmine project

Completed Wartsila hybrid energy project on the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire. Image: Wartsila.

||A project to hybridise the energy supply of Fekola, a gold mine in Mali, Africa, with renewable energy and battery storage, will be supplied with a hybrid energy solution, including energy storage, by Wärtsilä.

Energy-Storage.news reported in mid-October that an arm of German renewables developer Baywa R.E had been awarded the project's contracts by B2 Gold, owner and operator of the Fekola mine. Until now a relatively cautious entrant in the face of the current global 'battery storage boom', Baywa said the project, which includes 15MWh of battery storage, “will be the first operational large scale storage project with BayWa r.e. involvement, but there are more to follow.”

The project is thought to have a strong commercial impetus behind it – mining operations are usually big users of energy but are often in remote areas miles from the local grid. Hybridising the energy supply at Fekola will reduce the facility's dependence on imported heavy fuel oil, saving costs as well as reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and pollution.

Wärtsilä, the Finnish gas engine manufacturer and total energy solutions company, parent company to energy storage system integrator Greensmith Energy, announced today that it has been contracted to supply the project's energy storage system.

While the project was originally announced to have 13.5MWh of storage, Wärtsilä's release today said it will actually be a 17MW / 15MWh battery energy storage solution, built alongside a 30MW solar PV plant onsite, currently under construction. Wärtsilä said it will incorporate Greensmith's GEMS software and controls platform. The GEMS platform uses AI to control and optimise the battery and other assets, as well as dispatching or drawing energy according to conditions including generation and demand profiles and market oppportunities.

While it's a relatively new area for Baywa, Wärtsilä said it has already completed similar off-grid hybrid C&I projects including at a gold mine in Burkina Faso. Payback times for such projects are generally short, the company said.

“Hybrid solutions with renewable energy sourced power operations, are a realistic and effective means for increasing energy reliability and lowering operating costs for the mining sector. These remote locations are ideally suited for hybrid systems. Our extensive experience with microgrids in various climatic and geographical conditions will help the Fekola mine, and others of its kind, to achieve their environmental and cost saving goals,” Wärtsilä business development director for energy storage and optmisation, Risto Paldanius, said.

“We wanted to optimise full electricity generation at the mine using solar and energy storage. A key part of this solution is Wärtsilä’s state-of-the-art GEMS technology; it was an easy decision,” B2 Gold project manager Jan Clausen said.

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