Solar Microgrids Could Help Decarbonize Mining Operations

Similar to other industries, mining is an energy-intensive industry. The only difference is that the processes involve a lot of crushing, digging and processing of minerals, which consumes a lot of power. Mines also operate 24 hours a day on every day of the week.

Now that climate action is a priority under the Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”), many industries, including mining, are looking for solutions to decrease their emissions in a bid to incorporate more environmentally friendly approaches to mining, which will in turn help the planet.

In addition to this, producers of minerals want to make their entire supply chains more sustainable for mineral production. On the other hand, manufacturers are banking on suppliers of raw materials such as rare earth elements (“REEs”), which are crucial to products such as electric vehicles and consumer electronics, to decrease the general carbon intensity of their operations. This may be hard, given that some countries may not have access to affordable off-grid renewable energies.

Take for instance, Brazil, which is rich in metal reserves. The country produces and exports roughly 80 mineral products, which makes the nation the sixth-largest mining industry in the world. However, the mines are usually located in off-grid, remote locations, which presents mine operators with little options for decarbonization.

This leaves mine operators with no choice but to use expensive and polluting generators that are fueled with oil to supply the power needed, as they have no access to grid power.

The good news is that as the cost of renewable energy decreases,decarbonization in the mining industry is becoming economically viable. Many operators are looking at how microgrids can allow them to use renewable energy when they operate off the grid.

Solar PV has demonstrated that it can provide inexpensive and clean power that can help meet energy needs globally. Solar power assets are usually connected to the grid, which allows any power that is not consumed where it’s generated to be returned to the grid. However, solar cannot produce power 24 hours a day if used in isolation.

This is where solar microgrids come in. These are hybrid energy systems made up of energy storage and solar generation. The systems give access to electricity even when the sun isn’t out. Additionally, microgrids can operate without a grid or alongside an existing grid.

Some benefits of solar microgrids include:

  • Allowing firms to decarbonize their off-grid operations by migrating from power generated from fossil fuels. As energy will be generated on the operation site, the need to transport diesel will also be eliminated.
  • Less maintenance. As compared to other off-grid forms of power generation, solar panels need much less maintenance.

It remains to be seen how many firms will be first in line to set up solar microgrids to power their mining operations.

Meanwhile, Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU) (TSX: EFR) stands out among U.S. vanadium extraction companies due to its record as being the largest producer of this mineral in 2019, yet the company has capacity to adjust its production upwards should the need arise.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU) (TSX: EFR) are available in the company’s newsroom at

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