As the mining industry in Africa begins to turn to renewable sources to power their operations, one company plans to take advantage of this, French firm EREN. Partnered with Access Power MEA, it plans to broaden its footprint on the continent and the mining industry is its next target.
In January Access Power MEA and EREN launched Access Infra Africa, a vehicle that is dedicated to invest in the early stage development of power projects in Africa. Under the partnership EREN acquired a strategic equity stake in Access and a seat on its Board, giving it a stake in Access’ projects on the continent. The Access Infra Africa consortium was prequalified by Egypt’s Ministry of Electricity to develop large scale wind and solar power plants as part of the first round of Egypt’s renewable energy procurement program. One month earlier Access was awarded the contract to build, own and operate the first solar power plant in Uganda, a 10-MWp solar PV facility in Soroti.
Now EREN is turning its eyes toward the mining industry. The industry is highly energy intensive and more than a few mining firms are looking to diversify their energy mix to secure power and stabilize pricing. Many mining companies in Africa are already assessing or deploying renewables to address the real and growing energy stress in this market. Australian mining firm, Rio Tinto, powered its $5.2-billion Diavik diamond mine via wind energy and EREN is looking to expand on this success with renewables in the mining sector.
“We are in discussions right now with a lot of mining companies [in Africa]. We are looking at a number of projects,” he said. Mouratoglou would not comment as to which companies were on its radar.
The company’s goal is to set up smaller projects “most [upcoming] solar plants will be between 10-30 MW. It’s not going to be 100 MW, but it’s a different side”.
Mouratoglou said that these solar projects are cheaper electricity for them. “A lot of the mines are connected to the grid, but they don’t receive electricity from the grid. They have their own power production, such as. generators. So we would come to install a new solar plant which would be dedicated to the mine to replace the fuel during the day. They keep the engines to generate power at night or when there isn’t sunlight.”
Currently EREN is looking at developing countries for its projects such as Tanzania, Mauritius, and Zamiba.