JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – At Glencore’s Raglan Mine, in Canada, a closed loop, microgrid system converts excess wind power to hydrogen, which is then stored in tanks.
During periods of low wind power, a fuel cell produces electricity from the stored hydrogen, and within the facility are also innovations such as a battery energy storage system with flywheel generation and a Hatch microgrid controller in the mix.
Consulting engineering and project implementation company Hatch supported and partnered with Tugliq Energy and Glencore to achieve this environmentally friendly electricity generation within the Raglan nickel mining complex, which is located at the extreme limit of northern Quebec, in the Nunavik region, 100 km south of Deception Bay.
Together, the two wind turbines at Raglan Mine save more than 4.4-million litres of diesel and 12 000 t of greenhouse gas a year, the equivalent of 2 700 vehicles being removed from the roads.
This is happening at a time when green hydrogen projects are expanding globally to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Large-scale green hydrogen projects are now planned in many regions of the world that are transitioning to renewable power. These projects are based on electrolyser technology ranging from 100 MW to 5 GW in scale, Hatch stated in the September 18 edition of Engineering News & Mining Weekly, which published a major feature entitled Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and the Green Economy.
“Wind and solar power are seen as the main contributors to providing the required new installed capacity to supply electricity, at the lowest possible cost, for producing green hydrogen through electrolysis.
“The cost of green hydrogen production is currently about $4.50/kg, assuming the electricity comes from cheap renewable power. This cost is expected to halve by 2030 due to a number of factors. These include economies of scale in the manufacture of thousands of electrolysers, increased efficiency and the cost of delivering large-scale renewable power that continues to reduce year on year. It is predicted that the price of wind and solar power will decrease to below $20/MWh by 2030 in most regions of the world,” Hatch stated.
The Raglan property spans an area of nearly 70 km and consists of a series of ore deposits composed mostly of nickel and copper. The ore extracted is crushed, ground and processed on site to produce a nickel-copper concentrate, with 1.3-million tonnes of ore treated yearly at the concentrator resulting in more than 39 000 t of nickel-in-concentrate annually. The Glencore company states on its website that it strives to become a model in the mining industry in human resource development, equity towards its multicultural workforce, and respect for the local communities and the environment.
“We employ more than 950 workers and we are committed to providing a safe, productive, healthy and stable work environment for many years to come,” it says.
Specialised independent power producing company Tugliq delivers diesel-alternative solutions, using local and proximity resources to create clean energy landmarks in the toughest climates and most remote locations on the planet.
To date, Tugliq has replaced 16-million litres of diesel, avoided more than 40 000 t of carbon dioxide equivalents and produced more than 60 GWh of electricity. It cites Glencore as one of its partners, along with Hatch and the Rocky Mountain Institute, the US low-carbon energy protagonist, which this week hailed China’s commitment to achieve peak carbon-dioxide emission before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060.
GREEN HYDROGEN CONSORTIUM
Earlier this year, Hatch, Anglo American, BHP, and Fortescue formed the Green Hydrogen Consortium to look at ways of using green hydrogen to accelerate decarbonisation within their operations globally.
The consortium aims to collectively help to eliminate the obstacles to the adoption of green hydrogen technologies and encourage innovative applications. Some of the proposed activities include undertaking research, technology, and supply chain development, as well as piloting green hydrogen technologies that seek to de-risk and accelerate the technologies.
Hatch is closely following innovations in fuel cell development. A fuel cell converts hydrogen to produce electricity with no carbon emissions. Recently, Hanwha Energy commissioned the world’s first 50 MW hydrogen fuel cell power plant, generating electricity using waste hydrogen left over from a petrochemicals facility in South Korea.
“In summary, the green hydrogen economy is growing rapidly as a viable replacement for fossil fuel with green energy. These include the power generation, transportation, mining and the oil and gas industries.
“At Hatch, we’re committed to designing and building practical solutions that reduce the presence of greenhouse-gas emissions and adapting our built and natural environments to the unavoidable climate change-related impacts,” the company stated.
The Hydrogen Council began three years ago with 13 CEO members and then grew like Topsy to its current position of having more than 90 member companies.
Now the Green Hydrogen Consortium is attracting the attention of more companies as it puts strong emphasis on green hydrogen and fuel cell technology for mobility and power generation in mining.
“If we don’t take climate change issues very, very seriously, and see it as being part of our responsibility to respond in very effectful and impactful ways, God help us,” is the view of Minerals Council South Africa president and Exxaro CEO Mxolisi Mgojo.
“In my eyes, hydrogen’s most important contribution to a future energy system will be that it makes renewable energy transportable and tradable on a global scale,” said Germany-based Hydrogenious Technologies LOHC founder and CEO Dr Daniel Teichmann in response to questions by Engineering News & Mining Weekly.
The International Council for Mining and Metals reportedly expects hydrogen fuel cells to power vehicles of the future, against the backdrop of hydrogen being the simplest of all the elements and the universe’s most abundant element.
The platinum-group metals used in fuel cell and electrolyser technologies have an established supply chain in place to support demand, while hydrogen has multiple sources, is easily transported in large volumes, has a high energy density and can be stored in bulk for weeks, months or years.
These qualities are crucial in being able to act as a partner to renewable energy, which is supplied intermittently.