Eskom complete Model
ESKOM Complete Model, Sept 2012.JPG
Eskom has approved three separate proposals submitted by BBE Energy to fund solar-based energy systems at Gold Fields and AngloGold Ashanti mines through its Integrated Demand Management (IDM) budget. Once operational, these systems will probably be the only concentrated solar power (CSP) heated plants of their kind in the world.

BBE Energy, a registered ESCo (Energy Services Company), is an independent business unit within the BBE Group specialising in power and energy management in mine ventilation, refrigeration and cooling systems. Last year BBE Energy recorded a South African first with the successful construction of the first locally developed linear Fresnel CSP system for the mining and minerals sector. The new system comprises almost entirely locally-sourced components.  

The design strikes a balance between cost, reliability and efficiency, resulting in a commercially-viable, modular, solar steam generator that provides industrial companies with a strategic source of energy.  These systems generate heat using mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a fluid-carrying, thermal, receiver-tube.  Concentrated energy from the sun heats the fluid flowing through the tube and the resulting thermal energy can then be used for various industrial processes such as absorption refrigeration.

Chris Nell, MD of BBE Energy explains: “In 2011 we made several improvements to the original design of our CSP system, such as changing the receiver from a one-pipe to a four-pipe system, lowering the receiver and changing the support structure for the mirrors. In the first quarter of 2012 Eskom awarded us a contract to construct a 150 kW pilot plant at their Rosherville site and our team has begun work on this plant, which will be the biggest of its kind in South Africa to date. Testing and evaluation will begin later this year.

“At the same time we approached several mining companies, offering our system as part of a comprehensive energy efficient refinery plant solution that replaces electricity as the vehicle to produce the required high temperature steam or oil for the elution process.

“We’re delighted to have received Eskom’s approval to provide funding for these first three plants, which will be 600 kW, 1,2 MW and 2,4 MW in size. The mines concerned are now in their capital approval process, after which we will begin construction.

“The Linear Fresnel process has been used extensively around the world to generate electricity, but this is the first time it’s been harnessed in South Africa to assist our clients in the mining industry to save on energy costs in a predictable and meaningful way. CSP systems are able to produce energy more cost-effectively than existing electrical and fossil-fuelled boilers, thereby easing the burden on the already over-loaded national grid, particularly during the high-demand daytime periods.

“CSP technology offers the lowest-cost solar electricity for large-scale power generation. It is also inherently environmentally friendly and can attract funding from carbon credit mechanisms.”

Order book quadrupled

Over the past year BBE Energy’s order book has quadrupled, with seven energy efficiency projects presently underway in the platinum and gold industries, jointly funded by BBE, its clients and external funders, including Eskom. 

BBE Energy’s staff complement has expanded to 35, of which 22 employees are professional engineers. 
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