A mining firm in Indonesia is utilizing innovative power system technology developed by a Penticton company to drastically reduce its carbon footprint.
According to president Chris Struthers of Struthers Technical Solutions Ltd., the resulting reduction in global carbon dioxide emissions at the Martabe gold mine is over 100,000 tonnes per year, comparable to taking every car in Penticton off the road — about 22,000 light passenger vehicles.
The technology used to stabilize the local power grid has resulted in the displacement of 17 megawatts of diesel power by nearby hydroelectric and geothermal power generation.
When it first began operating in 2012, the mine used electricity from 32 large diesel generators to power its 24/7 operations.
The company made several attempts but was unsuccessful as a result of numerous power failures and equipment malfunctions, having to go back to diesel to produce the needed power.
The same year Struthers sent an electrical engineer to the mine at it was determined that the problems were caused by unbalanced voltages and high-frequency power noise on the power grid.
The Penticton company proposed an innovative low-cost solution using large electromagnetic coils operating at 11,000 volts to correct the problem.
The proposed solution was untested technology at the time.
With the potential benefits far outweighing the risks, PT Agincourt accepted the proposal to install this new compensation technology in early 2017.
StruthersTech designed the entire system in Penticton and had the industrial computer systems assembled in a Penticton-based factory.
The equipment was installed and commissioned in October 2017. The results were immediately successful, and the mine transitioned entirely to grid power within a few days. The diesel generating plant was shut down and placed on standby service.
Switching from high-cost diesel generation to lower-cost grid power has saved PT Agincourt over $1 million U.S. a month in energy and operational costs. With an initial project cost of less than $2 million, the new equipment has paid for itself in under two months.
With over 18 months of successful service, PT Agincourt has decided to purchase a second redundant compensator. This will allow the diesel generating plant to be entirely demobilized from the site.
Struthers phase-balancing solution is now the subject of an ongoing research project in collaboration with the University of British Columbia, Okanagan campus.
Professor Liwei Wang and Ph.D. student Yuanshi Zhang have completed a preliminary study of technology and initial results have reportedly been promising.
“The novel phase-balancing technology developed by StruthersTech has opened up a number of exciting research opportunities and potential applications in next-generation smart-grids and renewable energy projects,” said Wang in a news release. “The effectiveness of the proposed phase-balancing technology has been further proven by theoretical analysis and extensive dynamic simulations.
“I look forward to continuing this research with StruthersTech as we prepare two industry white papers for release in 2020.”