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Wärtsilä to provide hybrid energy storage solution for off-grid mine in Mali

Wärtsilä will optimize the energy system of the Fekola Mine, located in a remote region in southwest Mali. This is needed to improve the mine’s operations, reduce fuel consumption, and lessen the carbon emissions. Wärtsilä has been contracted to design and engineer a 17MW/15MWh energy storage system based on the company’s GEMS energy management solution. The order was placed by B2Gold, a Canadian based public gold-mining company. This project is the first hybrid-project between Wärtsilä and B2Gold and the order was booked with Wärtsilä in November 2019.

The Fekola Mine currently relies on conventional liquid fuels for its power. The significant cost savings and improved power reliability the hybrid system offers were key considerations in the award of the contract.

Fekola is the first mine in the region to add energy storage and solar to their operations. Wärtsilä’s advanced GEMS technology will not only control the new energy storage system, but will also control a new 30MW solar plant currently under construction.


In addition, GEMS will continuously optimize energy production for the entire mine. This will ensure the lowest Levelized Cost Of Electricity (LCOE) for the mine, while at the same time securing grid stability and maximizing uptime.

Hybrid systems with energy storage are suited for providing energy stability and an overall improvement in operations for remote mining locations where the conditions are often challenging. The payback time on such investments is typically short, since the cost of supplying fuel to remote locations can be excessive. Wärtsilä has earlier completed similar projects in Africa, a gold mine in Burkina Faso being the company’s first of its kind.

The hybrid system is created through a combination of renewables and an energy storage control system to form an environmentally sound and cost-efficient power source. GEMS, now in its sixth generation, will utilize artificial intelligence (AI), and automated decision-making based on real-time and forecasted data, including load demand and weather, to optimally operate the system’s assets and maximize efficiencies.

This latest in a string of orders that Wärtsilä has received from Africa will bring Wärtsilä’s total installed base on the continent to more than 7400 MW.



So they have a big solar farm and some storage ~= 1/2 the full solar output.
I assume you keep the old generator for nighttime / rainy days and use as much solar as possible.
Sounds reasonable and pragmatic to me.
IMO, this is how you will have to use renewables in general, keep the old fossil for dull / still days and use the renewables when possible.

Question: how do you keep the solar panels clean - is it desert or rainy ?
OK: "Mali has overall a hot, sunny and dry climate dominated by the subtropical ridge."

I assume this is a problem for all desert solar installations - how do you get the dust/sand off them without scratching the surface?


Southern Mali has 1100 mm rainfall and a 5 month dry season.

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