Picture: The custom engineered diesel generator set solution for Syrah Resources' Balama graphite project.

Remote projects that are far from national power grids will tend to pay a premium for generating their own energy; so they need to plan carefully to use it as efficiently as they can.

This is the advice of Zest WEG Group CEO Louis Meiring, who emphasises the opportunities presented by modern technology to reduce energy consumption in just about any industrial or mining enterprise.

Savings of 3 to 5% of energy consumed on site is a realistic target for most projects, especially if the enabling technologies and equipment can be incorporated into the design at an early stage,” says Meiring. “As a group that offers both power generation solutions as well as energy efficiency technologies, we can readily identify and quantify the efficiency benefits for customers.

He says the potential savings lie not only in the operating cost of the standalone power generating facility, but in the capital expenditure for construction, as better utilisation efficiencies can reduce the maximum output capacity required from the plant.

Alastair Gerrard, managing director of Zest Energy, says his company – which specialises in power supply solutions – works closely with EPCMs or directly with customers to plan and implement optimal solutions. This approach ensures that equipment life cycle costs are well controlled and contribute to overall project efficiency.

In addition to ensuring the right power generation solution for customers, we enhance our value-add through our knowledge of exactly how the generated energy can be best used,” says Gerrard. “WEG’s high efficiency, IE3 rated motors, for instance, can reduce the power consumed in a range of industrial functions such as pumping, conveyor systems and ventilation.”

Zest Energy recently installed a turnkey diesel power generation facility for the Balama graphite project in a remote region of Mozambique. 

Technology options such as variable speed drives can further enhance efficiencies and reduce the consumptive demands that a standalone power plant will have to meet; regeneration strategies also lower costs by feeding power back into the network.

There is also potential for ‘heat and power’ co-generation as an efficiency strategy,” says Gerrard, “where heat can be drawn off equipment like engines to feed back into plant functions, rather than being dissipated with no benefit.

He sees a trend among many industrial users towards pursuing higher energy efficiencies, as this can improve the cost-per-hour of running their assets and lead to a reduction in emissions by using more efficient technologies. 

There is also a growing interest in hybrid solutions that can incorporate renewable energy sources like solar and wind, alongside traditional fossil fuels,” says Gerrard.

A wide footprint across Africa – including its own entities in Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique and Ghana – allows the Gauteng-based Zest WEG Group to implement and service projects to high standards.