Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  05 Apr 2012

MINING: Solar Heating and Cooling – a New Reality


Recent Gauteng Business News

OptimumPM Energy’s solar energy harnessing technology enters the market at an opportune time, where the decision by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) to set a lower electricity tariff increase for the 12 month period to end in March next year is being formalised.

Solar heat energy sources have traditionally been applied to water heating for geysers, as the technology had not until recently been developed sufficiently for use in commerce and industry. However, the second-generation technology is now market-ready in South Africa through OptimumPM Energy.

OptimumPM chief executive officer and founder, John Shiri has been at the forefront of this evolving solar technology and has developed innovative solutions that will optimise the use of electricity in the mining industry. According to Shiri, what is lacking with new and existing mining operations is fully integrated, real-time power monitoring systems that can be integrated into mine control systems, as well as alternative powered devices and power generators to supplement power form the grid.

Solar Power in Mining Industry

“The mining industry requires integrated, real-time monitoring capability that continuously analyses the entire use of power across the mine. The electrical equipment or circuits being monitored should ideally be classified according to their criticality in the mine. This information should then be fed into the mine’s power control system to adjust power across the mine. In this way, non-critical equipment can be switched off to manage peak loads – something which is not currently standard practice,” says Shiri.

Shiri advises that the industry needs to start looking at solar or wind power to substitute grid power for parts of operations powering, or to power surface buildings.

More solutions could include the use of solar powered devices to reduce the load including:

    • Solar powered flood lights, LED solar street lights and mobile Solar LED light tower;
    • Solar based cooling systems for use in ventilation and cooling systems in mines; and
    • Solar water heating for change rooms.

Easy to install and with a optimal capital investment, OptimumPM Energy offers some nifty real-time electrical energy monitoring solutions, along with solar based lighting systems, solar cooling systems and solar voltaic electrical generation systems. These can assist the mining industry with minimizing energy usage at a time when the impending carbon tax system is a serious concern for mining operations in South Africa.

Solar Cooling Systems: The Absorption Chiller

A solar cooling system – or absorption chiller – uses heat energy, requiring no moving parts, to condense the higher pressure gas back into a liquid. Absorption chillers have the advantage of using either solar heat inputs or waste energy inputs and are extremely low electricity consumers, typically requiring just a small pump to move the liquids around.

These absorption chiller cooling systems can be used in a variety of applications that require cooling, including mining, abattoirs, butcheries, industrial fridges, florists, perishable storage, process plants and even mortuaries all through the use of solar power.

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